Your interpersonal communication determines how you are perceived in the workplace. And as an executive, your interpersonal communication determines the strength of your executive presence.
The vast majority of executives whom we coach have very little idea about how they are perceived in terms of their communications. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that there are many strategies to influence how you are perceived by others. As a leader you need to connect with others, and vocal delivery is one of the most underutilized keys you need to be effective. We have many examples of this single factor making or breaking an executive’s ability to communicate authentic executive presence.
Let’s take a closer look at 3 different kinds of communication content and how you can influence being perceived more accurately.
Leaders need to effectively communicate many different types of messages and content. We have found many leaders will do one of two things that unintentionally serve to make their message unclear, both of which they are typically completely unaware: 1) They have the same facial expressions and vocal inflections for all communication, or, 2) They have the wrong facial expression or vocal inflection matched up with their message.
Here’s our strategy for what to do instead
If the content of your message is engaged and upbeat, your facial expression needs to be smiling, raised brow, and nodding. Your voice needs to have a wider inflection.
If the content of your message is interested and trying to understand, you want your facial expression to show a calm, yet engaged expression. For this message your voice needs to have a moderate inflection.
If the content of your message is frustrated or upset, then you want your facial expression to have a neutral expression. And for this message you want a calmer inflection in your voice.
You can clearly see the need for congruence between the content of our message, your facial expression and your voice inflection by imagining the impact of an inconsistent message. For example, consider how confusing it would be to receive a message that was engaged and upbeat with a neutral expression and moderate inflection, or a frustrated and upset message with a smiling and nodding expression.
When the content of your message lines up with your facial expression and voice tone and inflection, your message is much more powerful and you are perceived as a much more powerful leader with strong executive presence.