“One of the greatest challenges of presence at the most senior levels is feeling that you can get up in front of the organization and speak with authenticity. Many leaders struggle to stay on corporate message while delivering a message to their teams, divisions or even the media that feels like their own.”


There are few, practical roadmaps to leadership that teach by example; OWN THE ROOM: Discover Your Signature Voice to Master Your Leadership Presence by Amy Jen Su and Muriel M Wilkins is definitely one of them. The book guides you through engaging real-life stories and examples to help you develop or hone your leadership presence.

A leadership aspirant, or an established leader in your area of expertise, how would you rate your leadership presence today?

Leadership presence is the ability to consistently and clearly articulate your value while influencing and connecting with others.


How effective is your leadership presence?

Going by the principle of ‘unlearn first to learn well’, Amy and Muriel suggest first to debunk the three myths of leadership presence:

  1. You are who you are
  2. One size fits all
  3. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

The authors take you on a journey by examples that anyone can have leadership presence if they work on it. There’s no one type of approach that fits all, “your presence is unique to you.”


How do you use your voice?

The authors emphasize on the leaders capabilities to bring the voice of self and voice of others together. “As you move along the leadership pipeline and the demands on you increase, you must adapt your voice for self and voice for others, expanding your abilities to demonstrate your value and to connect and align with others.”

Follow the ACE Model – Assumptions, Communications Strategies and Energy

The book follows an “ACE” model to find your Signature Voice, based on conditioning your:

  • Assumptions – what you assume and bring to your interactions with others
  • Communication Strategy – techniques and tools used to engage, influence and inspire others
  • Energy – physical conditioning that helps you manage the impact of your nonverbal cues/emotions on others

Through their coaching experience, the authors have presented some interesting characters that we can easily relate to in our usual workplace. How by simply aligning the ACE technique the leaders cited in the book were able to assess their current presence and were able to bring out their personal best as they worked on developing an authentic presence and voice to take their leadership skills to a higher level.

The authors also share inspirational and cautionary takes from a diverse range of leaders:

Bill Gates, who despite being a self-proclaimed introvert, has a presentation style that fills a room with laser clarity of vision and values, and defies many conventions of how powerful leaders tend to look and feel.

Al Gore, whose once robotic communication style as Vice President and Presidential candidate gave way to warmth, poise and passion for environmental causes, as a now acclaimed filmmaker and Nobel Peace Prize winner.

OWN THE ROOM demystifies the notion of presence and shows how to bring out your authentic personal best.

Muriel Maignan Wilkins and Amy Jen Su on their book: OWN THE ROOM: Discover Your Signature Voice to Master Your Leadership Presence