Do you look forward to your meetings?

Whether you love meetings or hate them, they’re golden opportunities to show your executive presence and build your brand as someone deserving of advancement.

On the flip side, it’s also easy to sabotage the way you come across to others without realizing it if you’re not focused on the right things.

Here are five behaviors to watch out for and avoid to safeguard your executive presence:

  • Apology language
  • Rambling
  • Mumbling
  • Poor body language
  • Lack of attention

Let’s start with the first behavior.

1. Apology language undercuts your presence

Apology language includes phrases like, “I’m not sure if this makes sense, but…” or “I could be wrong about this, but…”

When you start with an apology, you’re signaling you don’t have confidence in your point of view. It makes you appear tentative. This kind of preamble takes up valuable airtime and can even be annoying to those who want to see you step into your best self!

Avoid using apology language and speak up with confidence and authority instead.

Which brings us to the second behavior to avoid.

2. Rambling loses your audience

Having executive presence means getting to the point and staying on point. Rambling is the exact opposite.

It’s the equivalent of taking the “scenic route” that winds around aimlessly before getting to the destination.

When people have to work hard to understand what you’re saying, they “tune out” and stop listening. When they think you’re wasting their time, they get impatient and may interrupt. None of which is helpful to your executive presence.

Instead, you want to be succinct. That means organizing your thoughts so your listeners don’t have to, and leaving out the unnecessary detail.

This takes us to the third behavior.

3. Mumbling can lead to lost opportunities

Whether it’s speaking too quietly for people to hear or jumbling your words, mumbling is a problem when it comes to executive presence. As with rambling, when you mumble, people have to work hard to hear your message and understand it.

This was the case with one of my team members – let’s call him Ben. He spoke softly and indistinctly so we often had to ask him to “speak up” or repeat what he had said.

Despite being a great person and smarter than many others in the organization, Ben wasn’t someone I could count on to represent our group in an important meeting with management. As a result, he missed out on opportunities to rise and to shine.

This leads to the fourth behavior.

4. Poor body language undermines your presence

Even if you say nothing in a meeting, you are conveying your executive presence – or lack of it – through your body language.

Think about the way you sit during a meeting. Do you take up space at the table or shrink back? Are you sitting up straight or slumped back in your chair?

When you’re on video, your body language still matters. Can people see you clearly? Is your face positioned well in the frame? Don’t make these common virtual meeting mistakes and do make sure you look and feel confident on camera.

Remember, your body language also includes eye contact and avoiding distracting nervous habits.

Even if you can’t see yourself, everyone else can. Don’t be like the toddler who thinks no one can see her if her eyes are closed!

This brings us to the fifth behavior.

5. Lack of attention shows you’re not engaged

Being present is a key part of executive presence.

If you’re zoned out checking your emails or glancing down at your phone during meetings, it’s not a good look for your executive presence (even if you see senior executives doing it!).

When you pay attention during a meeting, it shows you’re engaged and invested in the group and objectives you’re meeting about. It also pays dividends in other ways too.

For example, meetings are a golden time to learn what’s effective (or not) when it comes to communication. You might observe how senior people react to what’s being said, and where the power sits within the group.

Paying attention also means you’re ready to speak up and add to the conversation and demonstrate your strategic thinking at the right times.

FREE Cheatsheet:
37 Things to Say and Ask in Meetings to Sound Strategic

Inspire greater confidence in your potential with simple changes

So now you know all five behaviors to avoid:

  • Apology language – it undercuts your presence
  • Rambling – you’ll lose your audience
  • Mumbling – it can lead to lost opportunities
  • Poor body language – which undermines your presence
  • Lack of attention – which shows you’re not engaged

Don’t let any unintended behaviors keep you from being seen as someone with strong executive presence and potential.

Which of these behaviors do you most need to avoid?

Leave a comment and let me know.

Recommended Resource

How to Build Executive Presence and Polish

What would it mean for your career if you knew how to inspire confidence, command attention and gain the respect of senior decision-makers from the moment you enter the room through to the end of the meeting?

That’s what it means to have “executive presence and polish”. And it’s an essential element of being seen as someone who deserves to be promoted.

In this Career Mastery workshop, you’ll discover how to master the 4 elements of executive presence. You’ll come away with actionable strategies and tools to inspire confidence, command attention and gain the respect of senior decision-makers.

You'll discover:

  • The 4 elements of executive presence and how to shine at each of them
  • How to make a powerful impression from the moment you walk into the room
  • How and when to speak up in a meeting, even if you’re an introvert or lack confidence
  • 3 Steps to improve your executive presence and confidence in high impact situations
  • And much more

Get instant access to this Career Mastery workshop