“One of the best feelings in the world is knowing that your presence and absence both means something to someone.” – Anonymous
Human beings want to be seen, heard and understood; this is a basic need. When we enter any social space, others feel our presence, and when we leave that space, our absence is sensed. Few individuals however know how to take effective command of their power of presence.
As with any skill, using one’s power of presence can be learned and trained. Demosthenes (384-322 BC), who became the most impactful orator of his time in ancient Greece, built an underground study where he exercised his voice. Despite his initial stammering and inarticulation of words, he practiced his power of presence using pebbles in his mouth, and by reciting verses before a large mirror and facing an ocean to project his voice powerfully.
Is there a secret to having Power of Presence?
We live in an age where tips and tools are believed to be sufficient to create great speakers. That is a fallacy. Truth of the matter is that to become like Demosthenes, we first need to truly understand what the power of presence means. SILKMentoring believes that the power of presence begins with an individual believing (not in an arrogant way!) that they have something unique to share with the world. Next, a person must work on developing their ability to project a sense of ease, poise or self-assurance before an audience. This helps to command attention and inspire trust and commitment from others. It is a capacity that can be learned.
The power of presence is an “other facing” skill and attitude; it implies an interaction with and direct impact on others. You know it when you see it. Someone walks into the room and people turn to look, step aside, or come up to welcome them in. Conversations open up to include them.
Aspects of the Power of Presence
Like all capacities, the amount of time one dedicates to honing the capacity, is directly proportional to one’s command of that capacity.
To achieve power of presence, 3 aspects in particular will require attention to be focused on. First, attention must be given to poise and posture. This is the first thing people notice; it is the grace, elegance and bearing of your physique. It is the way you stand, walk, sit and carry yourself while in the company of others. It may feel unnatural at first to maintain a straight back, to sit in a chair without slouching, to walk with measured steps and to habitually relax your face to reflect a calm command of your inner self. The first time you do this, you may feel like a robot, but constant practice and conscious self-reminders to maintain your poise and posture will eventually make it look and feel natural. This is the outer manifestation of the power of presence.
The second aspect is managing your tone of voice. This implies practicing the way you talk and becoming conscious about how you sound, so that when you speak, your message gets understood by your audience. Your voice needs to be filled with feeling, be made expressive and imbued with energy. The words spoken have to be clear, precise and each word used chosen to have the intended impact. Most great speakers were schooled to speak. It is important however to maintain your own personality and unique style of speech. If you are a loud personality, let it shine through. If you are a calm storytelling kind, or the statistics using presenter, embrace that style. There is no right or wrong, and being yourself will work in your advantage. Constant practice helps your message come across as strongly as possible.
Lastly, to have power of presence, you have to be your biggest fan, supporter and strongest ally. Your self-esteem and confidence shine through if you believe in who you are and who you can become. This is the innermost essence driving your power of presence. Once you are self-assured, it also helps to develop a strong support base of family, friends or people who believe in you. Having a cheering team encourage you and push you onward in the things you do generally makes a big difference in reaching your goals.
You can enhance your Power of Presence
To practice power of presence, you have to learn to first, own it! – in other words, whatever it is that makes you unique, interesting or quirky, use it to enhance yourself. If you talk with an accent, let it be heard; it means you have lived or grown up somewhere else and have experiences others might lack. If you are shy, it simply means that you reserve yourself for those you believe are deserving of you. If you have a weird laugh, make it your trademark. Everything unique about you makes you a more interesting person.
Second, you should remember that you are not just that one thing! – engage in positive self-talk to remind yourself that you are much more than those qualities or quirks that set you apart. Nobody is perfect, and everyone has something they are working on in themselves, a trait they are trying to improve, and a quality they are trying to develop. Everyone! You too are a sum of all your parts.
Third, observe deeply! – move beyond that over-active imagination which believes people look at and talk about you. Most times, people are wrapped up in their own stories and issues, and even when they look your way you may not really be the center of their focus. So ignore the noise and claim your space so you can share what you need to share. There is always someone who will benefit from it. Observing deeply will allow you to go beyond surface appearances and help you realize that in the end all human beings are fragile and in need of support to learn, grow, and live a full life.