Executive Presence Redefined: Ash Kay Demystifies the Power of Presence

By: Ash Kay

As a former broadcast journalist, I learned the importance of storytelling and the impact of presence in delivering a message, early on.


Understanding Presence as a Skill

Today, I find myself reflecting on this journalistic background and leaning into that experience in my role as a consultant with The Humphrey Group. Over the past eight years, I've had the privilege of helping many high-level executives discover their innate storytelling abilities by learning how to leverage the profound influence of their presence.

At The Humphrey Group, we believe it’s critical to understand that presence is a skill that can absolutely be developed. Knowing this can help to instill the confidence needed to unlock your full leadership potential. This is why we focus on practical fundamentals, such as the fact that presence is impacted by four aspects of communication: body language, eye contact, pace, and expression, throughout our teachings.

But while this is one very important part of mastering effective communication and embodying the essence of authentic leadership, I don’t view presence as a one-size-fits-all concept. It's also about developing a chameleon-like skill that allows you to adapt to various situations – all while staying true to yourself.


The 'X Factor' in Presence

This skill is something that I’ve come to call, the “x factor.” While you’ve probably heard this term before, to me the "x factor" comes from recognizing first and foremost how others experience you. This is where you take those teachings from above and begin to tailor them to your unique presence, all while continuing to consider your audience.

Summed up neatly, this crucial aspect of presence relies on authenticity. Whether you’re dressed in a suit... or a sweatsuit, the key is being genuine and aligning your external presentation with your internal convictions.

I've encountered high-level executives who exude confidence in certain arenas but are surprised by the subtleties they discover when we review their presentations together. It's the "um" moments – literally. I worked with one executive who, when we recorded their presentation, said “um” 46 times! Those seemingly minor hiccups impact the overall impression you leave on your audience.


Authenticity: The Core of Presence 

Let me share a powerful example that underscores the transformative nature of true presence. Picture a courtroom scene, a space charged with intensity and emotion. A lawyer stands before the jury, representing an organization dedicated to addressing wrongful convictions. What struck me was not just the principled stance of their words but the alignment between their physical presentation and the energy they brought to the room.

This lawyer, through the sheer force of their presence, captivated everyone in that courtroom. It wasn't about flashy attire or a booming voice; it was about an authentic, unwavering belief in the message they delivered. It left an indelible mark on everyone present, showcasing the potential impact of genuine presence.

But here’s the secret. Cultivating that kind of presence is not a 9-5 task – and trust me, you don’t have to be in a courtroom to make it happen. Rather, it is a continuous effort to make your presence felt authentically, both to your audience and within yourself.

I've come to find that magic happens when you have your own checklist, something like a personalized pre-flight guide to ensure you’re in tune with your own sense of authenticity. When you’re in tune with your own code of authenticity, you’re able to take the practical tips and strategies we offer and seamlessly integrate them into your unique leadership style, fostering a genuine and impactful presence.


Presence as a Tool for Inspiring Leadership

In the realm of effective communication, your presence is your currency. It's not just about what you say but how you say it, how you show up in the room, and how you make others feel. When you deliver your presentations and speeches with these areas in alignment, you begin to act as a leader who is able to influence others.

So how can you pull this all together? In an upcoming workshop, Executive Presence Redefined: A Blueprint for Professionals at All Levels on February 15, 2024, I’m going to cover just that.

Together we’ll explore the ways that these core concepts of presence evolve whether you’re authoring an article, lecturing in a great hall, or showing up to an online Zoom call. We’re also going to dive into the components of that internal checklist so that you can be sure you are building toward a presence that is truly authentic to you.

Leave a lasting impact on those you interact with. Whether you're a seasoned executive or an emerging leader, this workshop is designed to empower you to navigate the intricacies of self-awareness and foster your authentic brand of presence, sign up below to secure your seat!

Register Here