This post originally appeared on The Daily Muse.
Think back to a recent meeting, when someone there just seemed to attract and engage everyone around the table. Someone like Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg or Virgin’s Richard Branson—someone who has the ability to walk into a boardroom, command attention, and leave everyone wanting more. Someone who has that “it” factor.
In business, this is called executive presence. While it may seem like some people “just get it,” executive presence is actually something that they’ve probably worked very hard to achieve. In fact, as a public relations professional, part of my job is preparing company spokespeople for important interviews or speaking engagements, and I’ve worked with many leaders and executives on developing their “it” factor.
You can achieve it, too—and in fact, it’s an important skill to work on whether you’re currently in the C-suite or not. So, before you head to that next big meeting, take note of a few things I’ve found to be helpful in developing your own executive presence.
Be Polished, Poised, and Prepared
A person with good executive presence never lets people see her sweat. She’s not harried running from meeting to meeting, she’s not flustered when she speaks, and she’s seems like the person who, even in the wake of a crisis in the middle of the night, could still show up looking put together.
How do you achieve this type of poise (even if you are running from meeting to meeting)? First, before entering a room, always take a quick second to compose yourself—take a deep breath, smooth your hair, and slow down.
But more importantly, spend extra time beforehand to prepare yourself for anything. Think about the questions that your boss or client might have, and prepare a well thought-out response, which will prevent you from having to scramble through your notes or blurt out, “I don’t know.” Be calm, collected, and the person with all the answers, and you’ll be seen as a leader.
Mind Your Body Language
In your next meeting, look around and note how everyone is sitting. Typically, shy or unconfident people will close off and make themselves small by crossing their legs and arms. Imagine a hunched over Steve Jobs, avoiding looking at you. Seem impressive? Not so much.