Our Stamford meeting was packed as we hosted Laura Katen of Katen Consulting for May’s meeting on 5/21/18. Katen, a consultant who helps with training and communication for professionals, lead our group through a high-level overview of executive presence; what it means to have it and how we can project it in our daily interactions and careers.

Katen’s research was able to refine executive presence to 3 essential characteristics: gravitas, communication, and appearance. But before we explored the importance of those traits , we were asked to hold in our minds an image of someone we felt already portrayed executive presence.

With Katen’s help, the Stamford group was able to define executive presence as someone who exudes confidence; someone who is engaging, inspiring and, above all, decisive. As we moved through Katen’s presentation, she repeatedly asked us to come back to the examples we had chosen. More importantly, she reminded us that the women (and a few men too!) in the room were the authorities on executive presence. We had defined it together, she counseled us, so we need look no further than ourselves to keep our description fresh.

Missed the May meeting or interested in getting a crash course on how you can develop executive presence? Read on for our top takeaways from Katen’s  session, abbreviated for our group.  Laura covers this topic in much more depth during a 2-day class. You can find more information below:

Developing Executive Presence

Our key takeaways based on a 90-minute session given by Laura Katen of Katen Consulting to WLN, Stamford on 5/21/18:

Why is Executive Presence Important:

Your technical skills account for less than 15% of what you achieve in your lifetime. How you conduct yourself and your ability to put someone at ease makes up the other 85%.


The Three Attributes You can Cultivate to Consistently Show Executive Presence

  1. Gravitas: possessing composure under fire.

When 4,000 executives were surveyed, 67% said you must have grace under fire. They look to see if you act decisively and with integrity. Emotional intelligence, reputation and standing, vision and charisma were also considered highly important.

Pro Tip: Want to work on your gravitas? Develop a credibility statement. It’s a  4 sentence statement that expresses the value you bring to something and your expertise. Ask yourself: what are you saying when you describe who you are?

  1. Communication: having not only great speaking skills, but also an ability to command the room and read your audience.

55% of the message you communicate is non-verbal. Only 7% of communicating your message is based on the words you use. How clearly you speak and pronounce your words, as well as how you carry the energy throughout your message is deemed essential to portraying executive presence.

Pro Tip: Need to spruce up your communication? For verbal communication replace “I think”, “I believe”, and “I feel” with “my suggestion”, “my guidance”, and “my professional opinion”. For non-verbal communication try to keep your body still, smile to convey approachability, and maintain eye contact to show you’re interested in what is being discussed.

  1. Appearance: having a look that shows thoughtfulness and care.

Remember those 4,000 surveyed executives? Only 5% of them thought what you “say” is what are you communicating. Executive presence is a package deal and some of it hinges on your appearance. You have to use your judgement of course; not every work environment calls for a power suit. Good grooming, posture, and even your number of accessories have a big impact on how you’re perceived.

Pro Tip: If you’re trying to look more polished, try the “3 accessories” rule: 3 accessories are considered just right for a great executive presence. More than 3 is too flashy, but wearing none is perceived as junior. You get 3 freebies, though: your eye glasses, a wedding band, and a watch


Interested in learning more about building your executive presence? You can find Laura Katen’s information here.

We’ll see you all at the next meeting!