Presence isn’t like freckles: it’s not something you either possess or don’t. We all have it at varying levels, and it changes depending on the situation. Learning to control it means you can choose when to be the most interesting, or interested, person in the room: an invaluable life skill.
- Know what controlled feels like. We often confuse presence with commanding attention. Controlled high presence means being assertive and engaging, not egotistic or overwhelming. Likewise, controlled low presence means being quietly aware and attentive, not invisible. Reflect on what it feels like when your presence slips out of control.
- Adopt useful beliefs. Our presence is the result of our internal chatter; beliefs about how we’ll be judged hold us back. We choose the way we think, so replace this negative monologue with useful beliefs such as confident uncertainty (you don’t know what will happen, but you can deal with it), equality (you’re neither better nor worse than the people you’re with) and generosity (endowing them with positive characteristics).
- Harness positive energy. The most interesting person in the room tends to have high levels of contained energy. They focus it on those around them and aren’t afraid to share how they feel. Use your own energy to create a positive impact and you’ll be remembered for the right reasons.
- Have a purpose beyond pleasing. Being interested or interesting isn’t necessarily about being liked. Unconditional nodding in agreement will only reduce your presence. Staying true to yourself and expressing your opinion in a constructive way increases it. Separating your purpose from your personality will help you overcome the need to be liked.
- Manage it in the moment. Our presence is a big part of how other people perceive us – and most of the time their perception is based on very little. Being aware of your body language, tone and micro-behaviours will help you take control. Build credibility by speaking clearly, confidently and concisely, and make connections through eye contact, emotive stories and vocal variety.