Importance of Executive Presence In and Out of the Boardroom

To earn an image of executive presence, you have to show it through consistent action.
By Grace Zientarski

Executive presence, which is demonstrated through authentic confidence and natural leadership capability, is a valuable leadership skill that matters in and out of the boardroom. To earn an image of executive presence, you have to show it through consistent action. Extending your efforts before, during, and after the board meeting continuously proves your potential. Because when you’re at your best, it will bring out the best in everyone.

You are always making an impression with board members that influence how they perceive your leadership. Using every opportunity to display executive presence supplies and reinforces a positive image, and your confidence will inspire their confidence in you. You will have a magnetic effect on a room and impress board members every time.

Gravitas, communication, and appearance are the three pillars that make up executive presence. They are all necessary ingredients to consider while shaping your leadership presence. Each one sends a message about your competency and skills.

To achieve executive presence, you need to be polished, poised and prepared before, during and after a board meeting.

Related: How to Impress and Inspire Your Board

Executive Presence Before the Meeting

What you do before the meeting influences the outcome before it begins. Diligent preparation is the initial action that pushes your executive presence. It sets a positive tone, allowing not only you but everyone to enter the meeting with confidence in your leadership ability. Taking the initiative beforehand signals your expectation from others by relaying the message that everyone should prepare before they attend.

Before your board meeting, you will need to review previous minutes and arrange a prioritized meeting agenda and build your board meeting packet. Think deeply about possible questions board members might have while you prepare to create a thoughtful and knowledgeable response. Send out the agenda items with necessary background information well in advance for board members to review.

Board Director is a powerful board management tool for complete board meeting preparation.

  • Schedule the Board Meeting
  • Build Meeting Agenda
  • Build Board Meeting Packet
  • Add Previous Meeting Minutes
  • Send Notice of Meeting
  • Collect RSVPS

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Empty board room and board table with Do Good Things painting on wall.

Courtesy of Damir Kopezhanov/Unsplash

Executive Presence During the Meeting

Your executive presence sends a powerful message as soon as you enter the room. Board members will gravitate toward your leadership and remain engaged when you have the confidence to control a room. Effective meetings focus on discussions to make the valuable decisions that move your nonprofit toward its goals. When you run a board meeting, you will need to command attention to facilitate collaborative discussions. Your executive presence will ensure that everything on the agenda is covered. It will encourage everyone’s best effort, allowing you to run a mission-focused meeting that leaves everyone motivated and inspired.

The more you listen to others, the more they will want to listen to you. Don’t speak over others or interrupt, but truly listen to what each board member is saying. Establish eye contact, lean forward, and nod when someone offers their input. When they finish speaking, ask questions. Your actions and responses will show that they have your undivided attention and make each person feel valued.

Related: How to Run a Board Meeting

Executive Presence After the Meeting

Your executive presence during the meeting will cause every board member to leave impressed, but your efforts should not stop when the meeting adjourns. Following up after the meeting reinforces their approval. When you reach out after the meeting, you make another positive connection with your board members that sustains your executive presence. It proves your reliability and shows enthusiastic leadership. Your follow-through is a gesture that your board members will appreciate.

When a meeting ends, send board members an email while discussions are still fresh in their minds. The ideal time frame is within 24 hours after the meeting. Include the recorded minutes, any follow-up materials, and make sure to thank your board members.