Follow These Tips to Increase Your Boardroom Presence

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Shorter Version

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The tenets

My last article addressed the question How Do I Enhance My Marketability?’ by listing 6 personal tenets critical to becoming a ‘Strategic Partner’ in the business world. These tenets are:

  • Personal Credibility
  • Business Knowledge/Project Management
  • Strategic Contribution
  • Interpersonal Engagement/Oral Presentation Manner & Style
  • Managing Around Time Demands & Time Constraints
  • Leading Others by ‘Connecting’ with Them

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Motivational Theory depicts the top level of the ‘Needs Pyramid’ as Self-Actualization. (See Simply Psychology’s ‘ Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs,’ by Saul A. McLeod (2018, May 21).) In a business setting, Self-Actualization would translate to ‘Becoming a Strategic Partner.’ 

These tenets are unwavering in how they impact the formation of a strategic partner. As a stand-alone list, they mean little. I intend to dissect each of the 8 tenets to provide a clearer understanding of the significant role each plays. Specifically, I will focus on the Personal Credibility tenet and its second quality: Boardroom Presence.

What is a ‘Personal Credibility’ tenet?

So, what constitutes the Personal Credibility tenet? Quite simply, they are the 8 Personal Qualities that define you as a person. They determine how others see you. In other words, their perception of you. In the early stages of building credibility, PERCEPTION IS REALITY

These 8 Personal Qualities other people use to determine your effectiveness as a person, a professional, and, eventually, as a leader are:

  • Healthy Self-Image
  • Boardroom Presence
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Awareness
  • Personal Substance/Professionalism
  • Relationship & Team Building Skills
  • Presentation Manner & Style
  • Bearing Under Pressure

Perception Becomes Reality in the Eyes of Those Forming & Holding that Image.”

Tips to Increase Your Boardroom Presence

Boardroom Presence is all about how you appear to others in various settings. Keep in mind, in professional settings, academic or business, people constantly judge you. They cannot help it. If they have Sensory Capability they will be making critical assessments of you…and of others.

Each person has a ‘Reference Point’ in their mind about what is POSITIVE and what is NOT POSITIVE. They cannot help it; it just happens. In short, perception becomes a reality. Hence, this is why it’s so important to ensure you appear and behave in a manner that strengthens your credibility. Poor first impressions often doom very talented people.


Right or wrong, appearance is normally the very first thing that someone will notice about you. How do you dress? Did you shave? What is your introduction manner and style: your handshake, smile, voice (volume and accent), eye contact, name recall? How do you carry yourself: upright and attentive with a sense of military/confidence bearing?

Furthermore, it’s important to dress to fit your audience; you need to appeal to the critical audience. These people could have an impact on if you receive a job offer, have your sales proposal accepted, or are promoted. Thus, it is important to look like the people who are running the organization. Remember, it’s rare to be discounted for ‘over-dressing.’ In contrast, if you appear in casual or business casual when the dress code is business professional, you can doom the effort.

Be prepared

When you attend a recruiting event, a business meeting, or a sales presentation, make certain you are fully prepared. Design an agenda for yourself. Try to anticipate what others might ask of you and research to find the answers. LISTEN carefully to what others are saying. Stay engaged. Never be reticent. Always be prepared to fully respond to any questions, ideas, or thoughts.

Mind your manners

Always remember your manners. For example, whenever anyone enters a space you are in, STAND UP. This shows respect and creates a setting where you are on equal footing with everyone else. Furthermore, always address others formally (Sir, Ma’am, Doctor, Professor, Mr., Ms.…whatever it might be) after you have been introduced until they tell you differently. Do not get too casual or familiar with others until you’ve established a positive relationship.

Dining etiquette

As you operate within the business world, you will often connect with key individuals over breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Opportunities can be lost over a social meal. Proper dining etiquette is a lost art but you can make it through with these quick tips:

  • If you’re seated when other people arrive, stand up to greet them then sit down together
  • Take your napkin out of your drinking glass/off of the table and place it in your lap as soon as you sit
  • Silverware: If there is more than one place setting, start on the outside and move toward the inside as the meal progresses
  • Follow the Leader if you’re not certain about something
  • Water on the right. Bread on the left
  • Pass food to the right: Offer to the left of you, take some for yourself, then pass to your right
  • Do NOT lift your salad plate or soup bowl up to your mouth to get the last bits of food
  • Dab your napkin on your mouth prior to taking a drink…each time
  • Thank waiters/servers often
  • Toasts are handled by the host/hostess. If you want to make a toast, first ask the host or hostess if they are okay with that
  • Alcohol: Be careful with the type and amount
  • Ordering Food
    • Eat lightly if someone else is buying
    • Exercise caution with spaghetti, ribs, corn on the cob, French Onion Soup
  • ALWAYS offer to pick up the check unless it would be seen as offensive to do so
  • 20% Tip, sometimes more at lunch/breakfast

Self reflect

To increase your boardroom presence, you need to look like the one in charge. To determine if this is happening, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you project a professional image (others sense you are in charge because of the way you appear and carry yourself)?
  • Are you a bit reticent in how you interact with others, especially superiors or clients, or do you project yourself and your ideas with confidence?
  • When you depart a meeting, do you leave a lasting, positive impression?
  • Do others wish you were part of their team or organization?

 “I had to adapt my presence and develop it in a way that really exuded leadership.”

-Muriel Maignan Wilkins, Author of Own the Room

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Actionable Steps


Read each of the forthcoming articles specific to ‘Becoming A Strategic Partner.’

Each forthcoming article will highlight a specific tenet of ‘Becoming a Strategic Partner.’ Keep reading to fully reap the benefits of the tenets.


Read the outide resources

‘Outside resources’ specific to supporting each tenet will accompany these articles. Review these ‘outside resources’ for a deeper understanding of the particular tenet, and, as you glean information from these articles and outside resources, begin to put their lessons into play.


Practice makes perfect

Attempt to perfect each of the tenets of a ‘Strategic Partner.’ A great way to do this is by weaving the ‘Behaviors’ and ‘Core Competencies’ into your Performance Goals at work.


Ask for feedback

Ask for feedback specific to improving your boardroom presence. This can come from your partner, co-workers, or manager.

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About the Author

William Bagley

William Bagley

CEO & Personal Advisor, Bagley Consulting

With more than 35 years of experience leading HR & Recruiting, Career Development, and Leadership Coaching efforts for business professionals throughout the United States, Bill is the perfect resource for all things “Career.” For 20 years, he served as Regional HR & Recruiting Leader for Deloitte, retiring as a Firm Director. During his tenure, Deloitte was named, six times, to Fortune magazine’s list of the 100 Best Companies to Work for in America.
Full Bio | LinkedIn

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