Executive Presence in Women: How you can learn from Michelle Obama

Executive Presence in Women: How you can learn from Michelle Obama

Sheryl Sandberg has it. Michelle Obama has it. One might argue Hilary Clinton has it. When I say ‘it’, I’m referring to ‘Executive Presence’ – the power to inspire and motivate others.

It’s not enough to be smart, driven and good at what you do.  If female leaders want to climb the corporate ladder or win over their audience, they need to display this critical ingredient to successful leadership.

But how do you achieve this mixture of poise, confidence and authenticity?

Executive Presence is a blending of image, personality, ability and skills. One of the ways you can develop your own ‘EP’ is by observing others. You don’t need to copy someone, but learn their secrets and fine-tune them until they fit you.

Think back to a recent conference, when the presenter just seemed to effortlessly attract and engage everyone in the room – someone like Michelle Obama. The First Lady has the ability, on a consistent basis, to command unprecedented attention and easily influence others.  Her recent speech at the Democratic National Convention perfectly exemplifies this. She projected poise, passion and presence, connecting with her audience in an authentic, natural way.

Regardless of your political stance, there are a few undeniable qualities of Executive Presence to admire from the First Lady.

  1. Throughout her speech, Michelle Obama connected with the audience and sustained eye contact. Although it might sound simple, business leaders can find it difficult to make appropriate eye contact, but it’s a really effective way to increase your presence in a room and your connection with other people.
  2. Confidence in her material enabled Obama to deliver a beautifully constructed and dynamically delivered speech with poise and ease. When trying to influence an audience, preparation and practice is key; it enables you to present your ideas in a confident impactful way.
  3. Michelle Obama’s voice was passionate and she radiated an energy that communicated she was happy to be there and genuinely cared about the message she was delivering. Presence reveals itself when you believe your story and can stand behind your words. Say what you mean and mean what you say!
  4. She wasn’t scared to show her emotions. Her emotionally strong yet vulnerable tone and body language embodied the widely praised but rarely replicated ‘authenticity’ that seems to escape so many leaders. Connecting deeply with others enables you to emanate a strong sense of gravitas and warmth, helping draw the audience in.
  5. The Obama’s have always recognised the power of personal narrative. Michelle Obama used this opportunity to tell several personal stories about her husband,Hillary Clinton and her daughters. A tool that helped her appear more relatable. When telling a story, you don’t need plot twists; you need to keep it simple and short to resonate with your audience.

When someone with strong presence speaks, others take note, and there is no doubt that Michelle Obama exudes Executive Presence. To help female leaders achieve the same, we have developed a half-day programme tailored specifically for women, which is delivered by The Influence Business Associate, Marianne O Connor, who has a track record working with senior and high potential female executives on how they can develop their personal brand to raise their impact and profile.

The interactive programme, for up to 10 female participants, will look at the specific challenges female executives face, offer you practical techniques to develop your Executive Presence and positively enhance how you are seen by others.

For more information, download our course outline here.

For more top tips to help you develop Executive Presence, click here to view our recent blog ‘Executive Presence in Women: 3 Strategies to Stand Out as a Leader.