Five steps to boost your executive presence online

Guest Post by Rosemary Ravinal, APR, Founder & Chief Trainer, RMR Communications Consulting, LLC

A recently divorced friend who was browsing her feed of prospects on a dating app said she liked one gentleman because of he exuded “executive presence.” I asked myself if the term “executive presence” is a measure of desirability on a dating site based on a static image, does that lessen the importance of those qualities in the business world? Has the term been overused and diluted to render it meaningless? And how well can you gauge executive presence on video calls?

To satisfy my curiosity, I consulted a few friends who work at recruiting firms. I asked them: “What does executive presence represent when you screen candidates online?”

Mark, a global tech headhunter, said that it is means the candidate has poise, confidence, and gravitas. “They look and sound relaxed and smart.” Anne, who seeks out fundraising pros for national non-profits, told me that for men and women alike, “it’s a positive first impression that starts when they show up on the screen and carries through the entire interview and beyond.” And, Mike, a recruiter in the fintech space, said that it’s simply virtual charisma, the charm and warmth that transmits through video and leads to a face-to-face interview with the hiring company.

I was relieved.

I teach C-suite leaders how to project their authentic presence, personality, and expertise on Zoom and believe that today more than ever, executive presence is an essential component of success in the new normal of remote and hybrid teams.

How does the way you look, sound, and behave on the small screen boost your credibility and authority?  The three recruiters agreed that executive presence unlocks the door to opportunity and that transmitting it is more important in virtual settings than in person.

“On video we look at people more closely than we would in person,” said Mike, the fintech recruiter. “If someone is unsure and lacks confidence, those qualities will be magnified on the screen.” Anne, the fundraising specialist, added that the more significant the career opportunity, the more important executive presence becomes.

The good news is that though executive presence is critical, it is neither magical nor mysterious. It is a skill, not necessarily a trait, that can be cultivated and built. Yes, some people are naturally more charismatically gifted than others, but with focus, practice and self-awareness, everyone can improve.

Here are five key steps to build your executive presence on Zoom or your preferred video conference platform.

1. Be impeccable with the way you look and sound.

Video conferencing is a visual medium. How you show up casts the first impression that others will have of you, and we know how difficult it is to reverse a bad first impression. The human brain processes visual and auditory data at an approximate ratio of 90 to 10. That is, if you are not optimizing your appearance, or the 90 percent of the equation, you are missing out. Appearance is just one of the four aspects of ASSETs, Appearance, Staging and Styling, Energy and Technology, which contribute to your executive presence online. The sound—your words and how your voice transmits—comprises the other 10 percent. But note that what you say and the quality of your ideas are success factors on their own.

2. Build your public speaking skills. 

Public speaking is the foundation of leadership. People with great executive presence are excellent communicators. Invest the time in building strong oral communication skills and adapt them to the medium of video conferences. You need to be concise, focused, and highly connected to your audience to hold their attention and resonate. Avoid verbal fillers that clutter and tarnish your statements. Get to the point and make every word matter.

3. Become an excellent listener. 

Many people forget that one of the most important communication skills is your ability to listen. People with great executive presence are exceptional listeners. They engage with their full attention, they ask great questions, and they use listening to engage others and explore significant ideas. The element of engagement is crucial to successful interactions on Zoom where the ability to “read the virtual room” often determines the effectiveness of a meeting.  And there is an added benefit: The ability to listen effectively demonstrates self-confidence, another critical part of executive presence.

4. Articulate your personal mission statement.  

One of the key ingredients of inspiring confidence is having a compelling vision— a well-conceived notion of what you are working to accomplish. What do you stand for? Why do you do the work you do?  It should be appropriate in scale for your level of seniority. You should be able to communicate your vision flawlessly in any circumstance whether it is a self-introduction or a meeting with investors, employees, or other stakeholders. A robust, well-articulated vision is particularly valuable on video meetings where attention spans and patience are in short supply.

5. Learn to manage stress and performance anxiety. 

How do you behave when the stakes are high? How do you respond to technical glitches and connection problems that are common on video calls? Do you project steady composure or do your body language, facial expressions, and voice telegraph nervousness? People with good executive presence present themselves as calm, even keeled, well-prepared and in charge, even when factors beyond your control go haywire. That demonstrates the confidence and poise necessary to assume progressive levels of responsibility in an organization.

Simply put, executive presence can be a make-or-break factor in high-stakes situations where your talents, expertise, decisiveness, and vision are on display. And, in the new normal of remote work and online meetings, this secret sauce of leadership takes on even greater importance.

And one more benefit of executive presence: it may well be the elusive quality that you seek in the perfect romantic match. Leadership yields many rewards indeed.

For more tips on how to improve your presence and public speaking online and in person, visit my blog:

About the Author

Rosemary Ravinal, APR coaches C-suite executives on public speaking excellence on Zoom and in person. Her bespoke speaker training programs are backed by decades as a corporate communications leader, spokesperson and media personality in English and Spanish. Her company, RMR Communications Consulting, is based in Miami, Florida.

Remember Why You Have a Website

Guest Post by Carrie Hane, founder and principal strategist of Tanzen

Why do you have a website? This might seem like an odd question in 2018. But it’s worth asking.

Of course, the web is the first place most people go for information today. But with billions of websites on the web, what makes yours special? Why do you spend thousands—or even tens or hundreds of thousands—of dollars on maintaining an online presence, with a website as the hub?

The bottom line is that you have a website to satisfy a need your audience has in a way that supports your business goals.

It really is a digital stand-in for the business itself. In real life, if you don’t have people who are interested in what you are offering, you don’t have a business. When you talk to the people who need what you offer, you tell them how you can help them. Same for the website. If you make a website that is all about you and what you do instead of how you can help the type of people your business serves, it’s not going to serve its purpose.

Your website is not for you, it’s for the people you serve. That means starting with what they need help with, not with what you want from them.

For example, I recently did some user interviews for a fundraising organization. When asked what they thought about the organization’s website, several said that they were really put off by the big announcement for the current fundraising campaign that appears at the top of the home page. Before even telling people what the cause was or why it needed donations, they were announcing that they wanted money.

Yet that is not how the organization’s fundraisers start conversations with potential donors. They start with making a connection between the person and the institution for which they are raising money. They share stories about all the great things the institution does. They invite the potential donor to meet the people who are doing these great things. Only after the potential donor is inspired and connected are they asked for money.

As we go about redesigning the website, we will focus on translating those personal connections to the digital realm. We’ll focus not on what the organization wants from the web visitor but on what their cause does before sharing ways the visitor can support the cause.

Here’s an example of an member organization that has turned their website around to focus on its members:


Lead with confidence.

Solve complex issues.

Grow your career.

These are things that HFMA’s members want to do – and being a part of HFMA will help them succeed.

Looking at the Internet Archive Wayback Machine shows an older version that was very much about what HFMA had to say about itself:


Take a look at your website. Is it all about you or is it about the person on the other side of the screen?

If your website is all about you instead of your audience, it’s time to take a big step back and do some thinking—and perhaps some research—about what your audience needs. Then match those to what content and services you can provide to meet their needs. Start with their needs, not your content. Then turn your website into a conversation about how you can help.

About the author

Carrie Hane is the founder and principal strategist of Tanzen, which provides content strategy consulting and training designed to change how organizations approach content. For nearly 20 years, she’s alternated between in-house web content lead and consulting, putting together cross-functional teams and creating processes that stick while untangling information to make it useful, usable, and ready for the next frontier. She is the co-author of Designing Connected Content: Plan and Model Digital Products for Today and Tomorrow (New Riders, 2018). When not taming content, Carrie tries to tame her two boys. Content is easier. You can follow her on Twitter or subscribe to her newsletter to help bring sense of your content.

Manage Your Online Reputation, Or Else

You don’t have a choice – your business is online. It’s there because you have done so or because someone else has done so. It is always to your advantage if you take control of your online presence.