Speak Like a CEO by Oliver Aust

3 Ways to Increase Your Executive Presence

Published about 1 month ago • 4 min read

Executive Presence Gets You The Next Big Gig (3 Ways to Increase It)

The first part of this week's newsletter is written by Howie Chan, brand strategist and author of Legend Letters, the weekly newsletter that will give you strategies to be more charismatic, confident, and fulfilled, helping you live your version of legendary.

Subscribe to Howie's newsletter here.

Find part 2 of my special on AI and communications at the end of the newsletter.

In a survey of 400 CEOs and C-level executives, 89% of respondents believe that presence helps you get ahead and 78% say that a lack of presence will hold you back.

Executive presence is important if you want to grow.

But what is executive presence?

Turns out, executive presence is not about how you've performed or the impressive results you've been getting.

It's actually a signal for how prepared you are to take on a bigger role or a bigger opportunity.

The good news? Only 2% of leaders are "born" with it, the rest learn and hone this critical skill.


Executive presence is not about what you've done, it's a signal for what you can do.


What if you had the executive presence to complement your technical abilities? What if you could signal to management you can take on a bigger role? What if you were able to really showcase your ideas instead of worrying what people think?

A seminal study on executive presence shows the breakdown of three different areas:

  1. How you act 67% (gavitas)
  2. How you sound 28% (communication)
  3. How you look 5% (appearance)


The most important quality that shows gravitas is to show confidence, poise, and grace under fire. Three tactics:

Prime your brain

Self-talk is extremely important. Remind yourself that you are enough, that you are everything you need to be at this moment, and grateful for the chance to be the hero in your own story.

Take a moment

Breathe and focus on long exhales to calm yourself down.

Respond using the PREPS framework

If you are asked a really tough question (under fire)

Point: Pause as you look up without titling your head in deep thought, repeat the question and deliver a concise point.

Reason: Tell them why you made this point.

Example: Give a data driven example and an emotional anecdote.

Point: Go back to the main point you made at the beginning.

Segway: Ask an open ended question.


The most important quality is speaking concisely and in a compelling manner. Three tactics:

Lose the props

No notecards or stacks of paper. Know your main points.

Make eye contact

Look at your audience. Shift your gaze to different people in the room so as not to stare.


Make your points short and use pauses to denote importance after a key point is made.


The most important quality here is to look well groomed and polished. Three tactics:

Find a role model

Who do you look up to in your field? Use them as an example and then add your flair.

Dress for the job you want, not the one you have

Every job has its own culture around it, focus on the dress-code for the culture of that job.

Open posture

Stand tall, chest out, relaxed arms. By being in a confident physical state, your physiology will follow suit.​

Hone your executive presence, even if you're not aiming to be an executive. It's about signaling to whomever that you're ready for the next big thing!

"The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it."

~ Michelangelo

Dial up your executive presence, go get that big job.

(The newsletter has been lightly edited. Link to the original here.)

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9 Thought Leaders on AI and Communications

I asked not one, but nine thought leaders about the impact of AI on all aspects of communications.

They are world-renowned CEOs, business school professors, company builders and crisis communications experts.

Our all-star line-up for the second and last part of our Speak Like a CEO ‘AI special’ Part 2:

Nicole Büttner is an entrepreneur, economist and a tech optimist as well as a WEF Digital Leader for Europe. As the founder & CEO Merantix Momentum, she enables companies to unlock the value of artificial intelligence.

Key insight: AI is ripe for scale in 2024. Companies are well advised to upskill and educate their teams, define which position they will take in the ecosystem and be clear with their teams how they will use AI as any vacuum will be filled with speculation.

Dries Faems is professor for entrepreneurship at leading business school WHU and self-proclaimed GenAI nerd. He is also the co-host of the Most Awesome Founder podcast.

Key Insight: ChatGPT can help startup founders get their business off the ground. From ideation and business model development to value propositions, differentiation from competitors, and even telling your story, AI is fundamentally changing how businesses are built.

Benedikt Ilg is CEO & Co-Founder of Flip, a fast growing startup that empowers hundreds of companies including the likes of McDonalds and Porsche to communicate better, cheaper and faster with their frontline workers – with the help of AI.

Key Insight: AI is a transformative shift in Internal Communications. It helps you connect more deeply with your teams by automating routine tasks, personalizing communication, and translating messages into people’s mother tongue. The upshot: Better output in less time.

Jasmin Meilner & Maximilian Neukirchner are the founders and co-CEOs of MyRecruity. They are experts on social recruiting and the use of AI in recruitment.

Key insight: As many company’s struggle to attract talent, social recruiting allows companies to approach their dream candidates where they are most active: on social media. AI lightens the load in the application process and allows companies to produce more tailor-made content to boost their employer branding.

Listen on Spotify and Apple:

Have an inspired weekend!



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