HIGH POINT – Attendees of WithIt’s recent virtual Educational Brunch learned how to build executive presence from speaker Sharon Delaney McCloud. WithIt, a women’s leadership development network for the home and furnishings industries, moved its bi-annual event online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through her professional development practice at Walk West, a full-service marketing agency, former news anchor McCloud works with C-Suite executives and emerging leaders at global organizations.

“Women are maxing out during COVID-19,” McCloud said. “There is new research from Leanin.org that shows that women are shouldering most of the household and childcare responsibilities during the pandemic and are burning out two times as often as men.”

McCloud said one of the ways that women can take more control of their lives is by building executive presence and adding to their leadership potential.

“Companies are trying to build gender-diverse leadership teams since it is good for business,” McCloud said. “But new research shows women are less likely to be hired into or promoted to management level jobs.”

Some of the competencies that women need to work on in order to obtain these roles, according to McCloud, are financial acumen, managing risk and building their executive presence, which includes exuding a certain gravitas, or depth of personality, as well as improving communication skills and appearance.

“Women need to learn to speak up,” McCloud said. “57% of the time a woman is stepped on in a meeting when she is speaking. Women need to increase the volume of their words since quiet people are often seen as meek.”

Other communication tips include staying on point; avoiding the words such as just, kind of and sort of; not ending sentences with upspeak, where the final word has a higher inflection; and avoiding vocal fry, which is a tendency among younger people, according to McCloud.

When it comes to appearance, McCloud recommends developing a power pose and learning to move with purpose. She also suggests always dressing for the occasion, with the adage, “It’s always better to be slightly overdressed than underdressed.”

A recording of the event is available for those who weren’t able to attend.

WithIt is also inviting those who are attending the upcoming High Point Market to stop by and say hello at their booth between the Transportation Terminal and Showplace on Friday, Oct. 16, between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.

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