Executive Presence: What It Is and How to Develop It

January 9, 2023

11 min read

Have you ever heard the term “executive presence” but weren’t exactly sure what it meant? You’re not alone. Executive presence is a term that gets thrown around a lot in the business world, but it can be difficult to define or quantify.

What Is Executive Presence? 

Executive presence is a combination of qualities that enable a person to inspire confidence and respect in their leadership ability. It is important in the workplace because it helps leaders to effectively communicate and influence others.

It is a combination of factors that enable an individual to be perceived as a leader:

  • Confidence
  • Gravitas
  • Authenticity
  • Communication skills
  • Personal brand


Confidence is an essential part of executive presence, as it helps leaders inspire others and make decisions with conviction. This comes from the way you speak and how you deliver your message. 

When you feel confident, it completely changes your presence. For example, you might feel more sure of yourself. People may view you as more in control, poised, and professional. 

Consider working on this aspect of executive presence if you think you might be lacking confidence. Someone who feels self-assured is more likely to: 

  • Volunteer for challenges as work or school
  • Make solid decisions
  • Speak up for themselves or others, like in meetings at work or during class in school


Gravitas, or a sense of importance and weight, is also crucial for leaders to convey, as it helps them command respect and attention from their peers and subordinates. In other words, someone with gravitas shows authority. 

You don’t have to be born with it; instead, this aspect of executive presence can be grown and cultivated as you develop your skills. 

If you feel like you need to work on your gravitas, you can do things like:

  • Keep track of your personal and professional growth
  • Work on developing an increased sense of self-awareness
  • Learn how to communicate effectively


Authenticity is another key element of executive presence, as it allows leaders to be genuine and relatable to their teams. 

When you’re true to yourself (and when others see this), you’ll be able to connect with peers and subordinates on a deeper, genuine level. It also helps inspire others to follow your lead while also cultivating an atmosphere of trust. 

To develop or improve your authenticity, you can do things like:

  • Practice self-reflection 
  • Don’t be afraid of being vulnerable, especially in front of other people such as your peers or subordinates
  • Be honest with the people who have relationships with
  • Be upfront about your imperfections and how you mitigate them
  • Recognize your own weaknesses and strengths 

Leaders who have executive presence are not only self-aware, but also truthful, up front, and maintain a sense of integrity. 

Communication skills

Good communication skills, including the ability to articulate ideas clearly and listen actively, are also essential for leaders to effectively convey their vision and connect with their team.

If you aren’t able to communicate effectively with others — no matter if they’re your peers or subordinates — you won’t be able to improve your executive presence. As a leader, you need to be able to convey information in a concise but meaningful way to inspire the people who look up to you. 

You’ll be able to better support your team and your peers when you have excellent communication skills. 

Personal brand

Your personal brand includes both personal grooming and the way a leader presents themselves. 

Both executive presence and personal branding helps you stand out from the crowd in the best way. Developing a strong personal brand also helps you:

  • Be consistent in your leadership 
  • Manage your reputation (both online and offline)
  • Build trust and credibility in your position
  • Advance further in your career
  • Have more of an impact on your peers and subordinates
  • Build successful, fruitful relationships and connections

Overall, executive presence is about projecting a sense of confidence, competence, and authenticity that inspires trust and respect in others.

Executive Presence Training

You can explore training to improve in specific areas that you might be struggling with. Executive presence training helps hone in on your leadership skills so that you can be more confident, competent, and credible. 

For example, if you go through this type of leadership development, you’ll likely have a coach who can give you tips and strategies for improvement. This could include learning activities and self-assessment, too. 

Yoodli pairs perfectly with executive presence training, and can help you get to the next level. This AI speech coach is free to download and can help with everything from your word choice to your filler word usage, speaking pace, and even the information you want to convey. 

Using generative AI technology, Yoodli will analyze your speech and give you actionable tips and feedback based on what was said and how you said it. It can help you improve your executive presence by helping you prepare for and practice your: 

  • Impromptu speaking
  • Presentations for work or school
  • Conversational speaking skills
  • Interview skills 

You can learn more about how Yoodli works below:

You can improve your executive presence through Yoodli, an AI-powered communication coach.

Why Is Executive Presence Important?

Executive presence is important for everyone to develop, but especially leaders or those who want to become leaders.

Executive presence is a crucial quality for anyone aspiring to leadership roles, as it enables them to

It’s a key ingredient of successful leadership, since having executive presence helps you:

  • Be more confident
  • Lead your peers and subordinates 
  • Reach your career goals efficiently (and faster than before)
  • Motivate and inspire others
  • Cultivate a positive workplace (instead of a toxic work environment
  • Improves your conflict resolution abilities
  • Capture attention 

How to Improve Your Executive Presence

It’s important to keep in mind that improving your executive presence doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it takes dedicated time and effort, as well as personal work on yourself. 

Improving your executive presence can involve a number of different strategies. Here are a few ideas to improve your executive presence. 

1. Build your confidence.

Confidence can help you project authority and inspire others to follow your lead. You can build your confidence by setting and achieving challenging goals and seeking out new opportunities to lead or speak up.

The first step to improve your self-confidence is believing in yourself and what you stand for. Confidence is contagious, and you can spread this to others, like your coworkers, classmates, peers, and subordinates. 

2. Work on developing good communication skills.

Good communication skills are crucial for executive presence, including the ability to articulate your ideas clearly and listen actively to others. 

If you feel like you already have good communication skills, focus on refining or enhancing them. Taking advantage of the latest communication technology is a great way to start.

One sign of a successful communicator is being able to change your style of communication based on the situation or your audience.

You can work on developing your communication skills by signing up for Yoodli and practicing your speaking in a judgment-free way. Yoodli’s feedback tool will instantly analyze your speech and give you suggestions on how to improve your word choice and delivery. 

3. Become a better listener.

Sharpening your listening skills is one of the best ways to improve your executive presence. Active listening is crucial for building rapport and understanding others’ perspectives. Pay attention to verbal and nonverbal cues (such as hand gestures) and ask clarifying questions to ensure understanding.

Knowing how to be a good listener is more important than many leaders realize. Plus, learning how to listen with empathy is an especially important skill for any leader. 

4. Practice staying level-headed when you’re under stress. 

A true sign of successful executive presence is the ability to stay calm and functional, even when you’re stressed. In stressful or chaotic work environments, it can be hard to continue leading in your usual manner. When you’re overwhelmed, keeping a cool head is a challenge in and of itself. 

Practice staying calm and professional when you’re going through a stressful time and work to improve your emotional maturity. 

Other ways to improve your executive presence

Of course, there are many other ways you can improve your executive presence. For example, you can do other things like:

  • Make sure you’re up-to-date on current events going on in the world, in your industry, and in your smaller circle (like at work or school) to demonstrate your credibility
  • Be on the lookout for and open to feedback, including criticism, and plan to use that feedback for improvement
  • Learn from and keep up with leaders who inspire you for motivation
  • Make sure you continue to be professional, at work and outside of work 

Executive Presence Examples

Sometimes, it’s easier to envision what executive presence looks like through realistic examples and scenarios. As such, here are some executive presence examples to better illustrate what this key quality of leaders can look like in different settings.

  1. A leader in your local community speaks out against the town’s littering problem and motivates community members to support the cause and take action to reduce the amount of trash and rubbish. 
  2. A boss stays calm and collected while acknowledging an issue with the team in a respectful way, which not only solves the problem but also improves the team’s rapport.
  3. A CEO gives an impressive, succinct presentation to a large committee panel and is able to effectively showcase the business’ financial success from the past quarter. 
  4. A marketing exec enthusiastically pitches a service to a potential customer — leveraging her expertise — and builds a strong relationship with the client from the get-go.

Sheryl Sandberg’s 2011 keynote speech

Here’s an example of executive presence and confidence using Yoodli’s feedback tool. This executive presence example involves Yoodli’s feedback tool analyzing the entire Sheryl Sandberg speech.

Let’s take a look at Yoodli’s analysis of Sandberg’s speech. We can see below that:

  • She doesn’t use filler words in her speech — Instead she pauses.
  • She has a variety of top keywords that relate to her speech
  • She only uses weak words 2% of the time

You can see the transcript at the bottom, and on the right is the speaking insights, which include word choice and delivery:

Full Yoodli Analysis of Sheryl Sandberg Speech
Full Yoodli Analysis of Sheryl Sandberg Speech

From a delivery perspective, we see that Sandberg maintains great eye contact and incorporates pauses during her speech.

She could have reduced her pace ever so slightly, so as to not sound rushed. 150 words per minute would be more optimal. 

President Barack Obama’s DNC Speech

Let’s take a look at one of the best speakers in the world, Barack Obama, and  analyze his speech using Yoodli’s feedback tool:

Barack Obama has a strong executive presence, evident in this speech.

Using Yoodli’s analysis, we can observe the following:

  • He doesn’t use any filler words! Instead, he incorporates pauses in his speech. This conveys confidence and credibility.
  • He includes only inclusive words. This helps him relate to all segments of the audience.
  • His top keywords are appropriate for the situation. Words such as president, better and democracy are all words that make sense in a political speech.
  • He only uses weak words 1% of the time.
Obama DNC Speech - Yoodli Analytics - Word Choice
Obama DNC Speech – Yoodli Analytics – Word Choice

Benefits of Executive Presence

There are many benefits to developing and honing in on your executive presence. 

Some of the most notable advantages to having a strong executive presence include:

  1. Helping you feel more empowered: When you work on your leadership skills, for example, this can build your self-confidence, making you feel more empowered. You’ll feel more satisfaction in your professional and personal life when you project a positive image of yourself. 
  2. Motivating and inspiring other people: Leaders who motivate and inspire others have a strong executive presence. When you’re able to connect with people on a personal level and clearly communicate your goals, you’ll get more support from those around you. 
  3. Building your credibility and trust: When you feel empowered and secure in yourself, you’ll build up the trust and credibility others have in you. This is important for anyone, but especially for those who want to be leaders for their peers, subordinates, coworkers, or key stakeholders. 
  4. Being able to influence and persuade others easier: If you’re in an industry like sales or marketing, having a strong executive presence can make it easier to influence others or shape their opinions on something, such as a service or product. It’s due to a combination of being able to get people excited, communicate clearly, and exude confidence. 
  5. Refining and enhancing your personal brand: Having a positive reputation and personal brand, as well as a good executive presence, goes hand in hand. For example, a manager whose coworkers see as motivational, confident, and clever are more likely to be respected by their peers. 
  6. Growing your negotiating and conflict resolution skills: It’s no secret that improving your executive presence also builds up your negotiating and conflict resolution abilities. Being able to communicate clearly while also staying calm in stressful situations can also come in handy in both your personal and professional life. 
  7. Becoming a better communicator and team player: Someone with strong executive presence likely also has efficient communication skills. Not only are they comfortable speaking with others, but also are adept at getting their point across and communicating their vision. This can make you a better team player and improve your collaboration skills as well. 
  8. Going further in your career in less time: Having a significant executive presence can also help you go further in your career in less time. You can accelerate your career path through self-confidence, having a good reputation, and of course, excellent communication skills. That’s because you’ll be more likely to be noticed by others, especially with regard to getting raises, promotions, and higher positions. 

The Bottom Line

There are several strategies that you can use to improve your executive presence, such as:

  • Build confidence
  • Develop good communication skills
  • Be authentic
  • Pay attention to your personal brand

If you want to take your executive presence to the next level, use Yoodli, an AI-powered platform designed to help you grow as a leader. 

With Yoodli, you’ll have access to a range of resources, including free coaching and feedback to help you develop your executive presence and strengthen your leadership skills. 

Don’t miss this opportunity to tap into the power of AI and take your leadership to new heights. Sign up with Yoodli today.


Start practicing with Yoodli.

Getting better at speaking is getting easier. Record or upload a speech and let our AI Speech Coach analyze your speaking and give you feedback.

Get Yoodli for free