5 Ways Leaders Exude Executive Presence In A Virtual Working World

By Avery Blank, Contributor
To maintain your leadership in a remote workplace, consider these elements. getty

Having a solid grasp of the subject at hand and being confident in your abilities is critical to having an executive presence. With the workplace increasingly becoming more remote, there are additional considerations to maintaining an executive presence and continuing to connect with people who are not in the same room as you. Consider these five ways a leader exudes executive presence in a virtual working world:

1.     Understand how to use video and teleconferencing technology.

Have you seen or experienced a CEO trying to troubleshoot a technology problem during a meeting? You most likely have not experienced this. And if you have, you may have cringed or felt uncomfortable.

Leaders need to communicate a message or a direction. Dealing with a technical issue diverts people’s attention away from the purpose of an executive’s role.

To help with your executive presence in a virtual working world, test your technology before the virtual meeting. If you have issues, seek guidance from the information technology professionals in your organization. If you are organizing the conference, ask one of your information technology colleagues to participate. Eliminate the technical snafus so that you can focus on the substance.

2.     Speak in front of a professionally suitable background, and eliminate background noise.

Don’t put yourself in front of a backdrop with which you feel uncomfortable. The confidence that comes with having executive presence is due, in part, to being your authentic self. When you feel comfortable, your present better.

However, recognize that executive presence is developed based on what others see and feel from you. Ask yourself, “Is my video conferencing background going to distract the audience from listening to and understanding my message?”

Consider sitting at a neat desk, in front of an uncluttered bookshelf or a basic picture of a landscape. You can use a background that suggests some personality. However, make sure the focus is on you and that your surroundings will not be a distraction. If you have been provided a work from home allowance, use it to purchase a ring light, for example, for optimal room lighting.

Some senior professionals have established a level of executive presence such that it does not matter if they are Zooming into a meeting from, for example, a gas station stop on a road trip. People will recognize and admire their confidence to be their authentic self. But having a reputation for being a leader and delivering impact takes experience that only some senior professionals have developed over time. 

If you are a junior professional or new to an organization trying to establish your reputation and credibility, have a background that helps people to take you seriously.

3.     Listen to other people.

When people recognize that you are listening to them, people will listen to you. Having executive presence is not about the amount of time you speak. It is about the quality of the connections you make with each individual. A great way to connect with people is by listening to them.

Allow yourself a few seconds before starting to speak to ensure you allow the other person to finish their thought and avoid speaking over them.

4.     Avoid dramatic or nervous movements.

A professional with executive presence demonstrates authority over their words and surrounding. Even in the event of a crisis, a leader projects a level of calmness and steadiness. 

When you speak or present, try to keep hand gestures and voice fluctuations to a minimum. Extreme movements will not help you to make a stronger connection with people on the other side of the computer screen. It will just be a distraction.

It is okay to show some passion. You should express your authentic feelings, but don’t let your passion overtake the message you are trying to convey. Your colleagues are expecting a meeting, not a roller coaster ride or an orchestra conductor. Leave the drama out.

5.     Speak clearly, and don’t be afraid of silence.

Speak at a pace that can be understood by other people. If you speak too fast, you will miss out on an opportunity to make an impact with your message. Speaking at a measured pace can also help you to enunciate your words and ensure your colleagues understand each word communicated through the technology.

Pause. When it is your opportunity to speak, your goal is to communicate a message, not just try to get through what you want to say. Take a few seconds here and there to pause and allow people to digest your points. If you want to make an impact at a work meeting, focus on your audience’s experience.


While having executive presence is ultimately determined by other people, you have the ability to shape the type of professional you want to be. Developing executive presence is about investing in you and your career. Eliminate distractions like technology snafus, busy backgrounds and sudden movements. Don’t rush when you speak, and have the discipline to listen to other people.


What helps you to make an impression while working remotely? Share with me your stories and thoughts via Twitter or LinkedIn.


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