Executive Presence: Communicate as an Executive

An executive’s ability to write, speak and present ideas and information clearly will either propel him through the executive ranks or hinder his career progression.

As an executive, and subsequently as a management consultant, I’ve had the opportunity to observe and participate in hundreds (perhaps thousands) of executive level meetings and conversations.  I’ve learned that there are some distinguishing writing and speaking characteristics executives use, and some they avoid, that are extremely effective:

  1. Every communication should have a specific purpose.  By the end of the communication, whether it’s a presentation to a group of people or an EMAIL to an individual, the purpose should be clear.
  2. Carefully consider the audience for any communication.
  3. Use language that’s professional, clear and pertinent to the conversation.
  4. Use positive language and communicate with passion and energy leaving no doubt where you stand on a topic.
  5. Write and speak with respect to everyone, regardless of their position.
  6. Know when and how to end a discussion or letter with grace.
  7. Listen without interrupting.
  8. Don’t write or speak condescendingly, dismissively, or use unprofessional language.
  9. Don’t write or display histrionics, grandstand, or display the “victim mentality” if you encounter resistance.

Writing, speaking, and presenting as an executive takes practice.  Like any other learned skill, the more you practice it, the more it will become second nature.

Leah Ward-Lee is a management consultant based in Dallas, Texas and the author of $1,000 Start-Ups.


Published by Leah Ward-Lee

Leah Ward-Lee, the author of "$1,000 Start-Ups", is a serial micro-entrepreneur. She opened her first business at ten after lobbying for and receiving a shoe shine kit for Christmas. She pulled her wagon through the neighborhood, going door-to-door, offering to shine her neighbor’s shoes for twenty-five cents a pair. Once her wagon was full, she took the shoes home and polished them. Unfortunately that business was short-lived. She hadn’t tagged the shoes and couldn’t remember whose shoes were whose, so her dad went with her to retrace the route until every pair was returned. Since then she’s had businesses developing and teaching college courses, instructing aerobic classes, owning half a plane that was rented to a flight and maintenance school, and renting homes. She’s also owned a consignment store, a gift shop, a gift basket business, a consulting firm, hosted The Executive Toolbox (a weekly radio show), and a publishing company. She also spent twenty years in the US Army, served as the Chief Information and Technical Officer for two major insurance companies, and has a second career as a management consultant. Leah resides in Dallas, TX and on Amelia Island with Sammy and Goliath, her two rescue dogs.


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