Think back to the last time you felt powerful, like exponentially powerful. What were you wearing? Where were you standing? Who were you talking to? How were you talking? Did you prepare ahead of time?
Being “powerful” is more than a title. It’s a mindset and an attitude. It’s a skill that you can develop over time.
It starts by having confidence. Easier said than done – right? A long time ago someone told me that whenever they must give a presentation before they get up on stage they beat on their chest (think ape-man). Sounds ridiculous (and I’m sure it looked like he was a crazy person) but he said that it made him feel powerful and his on-stage presence was amazing. Such a quick little thing – super weird and super primal but it worked.
There are a lot of tips and tricks that help you come across as confident and powerful – even if you don’t feel like it. Here are just a few of my favorites!
- Go big. What do I mean by this? Take up a big amount of space. There are a lot of ways to do this. I had a boss one time that wouldn’t sit but would stand and walk around. When you sit down at a conference table don’t try to cram all your stuff in a small space – get comfortable and spread out a little. If two people sit down on a plane simultaneously, the power move is to assume the armrest position immediately, right. Use that same mentality in meetings and presentations. You are meant to be there. You are meant to consume space – take up your fair share. Stretch out your arms and legs. Let your body fill up space in the room. Pro Tip: Don’t be a dick about it. If there are people that need the space or seats obviously give it to them.
- Positioning yourself in the right place in the room is also important. Try to get to meetings early so that you can sit in either one of the first few rows or the middle row. If you draw a capital letter T in the seats, those are the ones that you want to sit in. I learned that tip back in college. I was told that it’s proven that the people in those seats are typically either in leadership or a top performer. Crazy, right? It makes sense though… that’s where the presenter looks. The more senior folks will sit in the front of the room as they usually will need to present or weigh in on the presentation. Not only does putting yourself in these seats get you noticed it also allows you to network with folks that might have a better chance of helping you further your career.
- Set yourself apart. Think about people that are super successful. Like SUPER SUCCESSFUL. A lot of them all have something that differentiates them and not just a cool last name or hobby. Steve Jobs and his turtleneck, Mark Zuckerberg and his casual style, Donald Trump and his…hair?. You are allowed to be you. Find little the things that really make you feel good about yourself and set you apart and allow them to flourish so that you stand out. If there is no dress code this is a good place to start. But, always remember to look professional. Let the world see who you are!
- Want to set the tone for the meeting? Send out the agenda. Set the direction. You will be the person that everyone comes to with questions. Make sure to ask anyone else who would be an important decision-maker if they have anything else that needs to be discussed and include it on the agenda. At some point, this task might not work if your high enough on the totem pole that you get an assistant to do it for you but until then, being the one leading the timeline and get ahead of the meeting schedule. Kick-off meetings. If you aren’t overstepping, try to be the person that tee’s off the meeting. Introduce everyone in the room and ground the team in what you will be discussing.
- Talk big picture and long game and avoid getting tactical. In the next few meetings you are in, listen to the way that the best leaders talk. They understand the long game and they always circle back to it. Without the big picture and strategy, nothing lines up or makes sense and the vision won’t come to life. Even if you are the person responsible for the tactical plan and logistics make sure that you always explain how it aligns with the big picture.
- Delegate the logistics to someone else (if you can). In my role I am primarily focused on the logistics of getting projects completed, however, there are a lot of upper management folks that I have worked with that love to get in the weeds on the details and it consumes a lot of their time that they could be using to getting other work done that could potentially move the business along in a more meaningful way. My advice to you is, if you don’t have to deal with the little details – don’t. Hire someone you feel is capable of doing it and then let them. You have bigger fish to fry.
- Work on your posture. This one sounds so trivial and so silly but it makes such a big difference. Next time you are in a room full of people look around. The way you sit and carry yourself makes a huge difference in how people perceive you.
- Get off your phone. This is a personal opinion but I believe that when you are glued to your phone and not in the moment and aware of what is going on in the room around it makes it look like you are either behind on your work and trying to catch up or not interested in what you are doing. If you are so busy that you can’t step away from your phone then just don’t leave your desk.
- Contribute early. If you are in a meeting, try to get your thoughts out there at the beginning of the meeting. Have an opinion and state it. Then absorb what is going on in the meeting or room.
- Interrupt if needed. I always worried about jumping into conversations and saying something dumb. I had good ideas and recommendations but I wasn’t confident that my opinion mattered. It does. If people that on the ground floor never speak up then there isn’t a voice for the masses. Sometimes you might be wrong but if you have something substantial that needs to be said, you should feel comfortable speaking up.
- Listen more than you talk. Ensure everything that comes out of your mouth has a good reason too. If every time you speak you say something substantial people will listen to you more often.