What is this thing called “Presence”?
Is it a vibe? A star quality? Charisma? It is an elusive quality for sure – but we know it when we see it.
Are we born with it or can we acquire it? I believe, both. But we can cultivate it.
“Command presence” is a term that was developed in the military to describe someone who has the quality of a leader. That term has now been generalized to business and other settings. People who posses this quality command attention; all eyes turn to them and we listen with interest and awe.
From my experience as a Presentation Trainer, this “presence” comes in all shapes and sizes. I have seen quiet, almost whispered presentations that have been totally captivating. I have witnessed free flowing, enchanting speakers who carry us enraptured on a journey. I have noticed how heads turn as someone walks across a room, without uttering a word. Indeed we know it when we see it…or sense it.
So how can you develop or enhance your ‘presence”?
As a speaker, knowing what you are talking about, gives a sense of authority and security. If your talk makes sense, is well organized, is of value; then you can let yourself shine and project your passion for your subject.
One of the keys to developing a Sense of Presence is to use all the non-verbal signals of confidence:
- Eye contact adds credibility, a connection. Contact comes from con (with) and tangere (to touch). You are touching the audience with your eyes.
- Pauses are seen as being thoughtful. It adds a sense of anticipation. Good speakers use a lot of pauses to draw an audience in.
- Smile, share your delight and passion for your subject. Share your insights, secret observations …an audience loves it when you “draw back the curtain”.
- Share interesting stories. We appreciate when you share your wisdom and your insights.
Presence: if we could buy it, we would. Study leaders who command presence.
Just imagine turning heads and captivating an audience.
Here are a few to watch:
President Bill Clinton: Of course, a well recognized, charismatic speaker http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5knEXDsrL4
Jeanne Robertson: I came across this delightful woman who is enchanting and funny http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YFRUSTiFUs
George Clooney: I’m told he’s a charismatic, charming man. Anyone heard of him? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLk_gCg-BOM