July 5

What is Virtual Executive Presence and How To Get It

What is Virtual Executive Presence and How To Get It

Executive presence, the ability to inspire, influence and empower others, whether communicating face-to-face or remotely, is a vital leadership skill. Executive presence makes it easier for others to listen, to trust, and to be open to following your lead. However, many leaders, aspiring leaders and salespeople are finding out the hard way that the traditional executive presence they may have in-person does not successfully transfer to a virtual world. 

What is Virtual Executive Presence?

Executive Presence is made up of a number of qualities, including confidence, credibility, transparency, empathy, etc. And these qualities are conveyed to your audience through dozens of verbal and nonverbal signals.

Virtual Executive Presence is the ability to convey these leadership qualities through signals that your virtual audience can successfully perceive.  Because ultimately, perception is reality. 

Why Executive Presence is Different Virtually 

In the virtual world, many of those verbal and nonverbal signals associated with executive presence are distorted, minimized or obscured by the camera.  For example:

  • The camera (and your audience) sees only 20% of your body language. Removing 80% of your nonverbal communication completely changes the dynamics. 
  • Gestures can add context, emotion and meaning to your words. But because the camera has a much narrower focus than in-person, these same gestures can make you appear nervous, unclear, or distract your audience from your message. 
  • The camera flattens everything out. Thus, the sad-but-true saying, “the camera adds 10 pounds.” But few people realize that the camera also takes away a big chunk of their energy. 
  • Direct eye contact is the strongest nonverbal signal you can send to project confidence and credibility. Yet jump on any virtual call and few people – including leaders – are leveraging the power of eye contact. 
  • In virtual meetings, many people have their cameras “off.” Leaders who appear quite confident speaking to large groups face-to-face, are visibly uncomfortable and awkward when confronted with this silent and invisible virtual audience. 
  • Virtual audiences are notoriously passive.  This can wrack the confidence of even the most experienced leaders, resulting in the long one-sided monologues we’ve become accustomed to on video. 

Critical New Skills Are Required

Conveying Executive Presence virtually requires new skills – none of which we are born with.  These include: 

  • The ability to use your 20% (head, upper torso, voice) to sufficiently compensate for the loss of your energy and body language.
  • Video-friendly gestures and movements.
  • Channeling much-needed energy through the camera. 
  • The ability to hold eye contact with the camera and knowing how and when to read your audience.
  • Being able to confidently engage with audiences – whether you can see them or not. 
  • The confidence and tactics for increasing interaction and engagement with passive virtual audiences.

Develop Your Virtual Executive Presence 

Traditional executive presence skills that don’t take into account these and other unique virtual communication challenges leaders face will fail. Find out how to develop your Virtual Executive Presence with the specialists in this area by clicking below.

virtual executive presence



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