Presence is a difficult thing to describe but we all know people that have it, they radiate something from the inside out, we trust what they say and we want to hear more. We know what they stand for and they are not afraid to be different if they are being true to themselves. Sometimes they don’t have to say anything at all but their presence can be felt. They make an impact and have a certain charisma. They are always noticed and acknowledged. In business terms we might call presence, charisma or gravitas – in marketing terms it might be called our signature or brand.
Here are 5 things you can do to develop your own presence. Everybody is different and this is the wonderful and challenging thing about presence – we can’t really copy anybody else, we need to develop our sense of self or presence from the inside out. I’ve used these techniques over the years and continue to go back to them regularly with myself and business leaders through my coaching sessions.
1. Understand and nurture your own uniqueness
Think about how you would describe YOU. What are the things you are passionate about? What do you stand for? Which 5 words would you use to describe you? (if you struggle with this then ask people you trust for five words they would use to describe you – this will begin to give you a sense of what you are projecting at the moment – only use the words you agree with)
These will help develop your self esteem which will give you more confidence to be who you are.
2. Connect more strongly with you
**I’ve taken this exercise straight from WikiHow which is becoming a great source of personal development information**
Sit yourself in a comfortable position in your chair . Make sure that nothing will distract you (unplug your phone, close your door, ask people not to disturb you, etc.) Close your eyes and pay attention to your breath. Allow your breath to fall in and out of you, unobstructed. Notice any place where your breath begins to catch. Allow your breath to touch that place until it opens and relaxes. Be sure not to judge your observations.
Allow yourself to be in the state you are in. Also know that your state is flexible and can change. Move your attention to your facial muscles. Start from the top of your head and move your way down. Are you lifting your brow? Are you holding your eyes closed too tightly? Are you flaring your nostrils? Are you curling your lips in? Are you pulling your mouth into a frown? Are you pulling your mouth into a smile? Is your jaw relaxed? Is your neck relaxed?
Concentrate on any tension in your face and take a deep breath in. Imagine that you are delivering all of the oxygen from your breath straight to the point on your face that is tense. Continue until your entire face and neck are relaxed. You should feel your sinuses open up and your circulation become better (you may feel more warmth or tingling in your skin). Your expression may feel very different. Do not judge yourself, just notice what you notice.
Take the time to do this throughout your entire body. Allow each point of tension to be filled with your breath. Allow these places to open and relax. Pay close attention to the state of your body as this tells you a lot about how you move through the world.
After you are done, go over to a mirror and look at yourself. You may be shocked because you look a little different. Do not do anything, just observe how you have changed. If at any time that you are studying your new body, you feel tensions creeping back, take another deep breath and release this tension.
After the mirror, try talking to someone you know. They may comment that you look a little different. Your voice may sound different as well. You may seem more confident and more calm. Don’t let this disturb you. If you feel the tension creeping back, take a deep, silent breath and release the tension again. While you are talking to your friend or family member, allow yourself to be expressive with your face as well as your body, but don’t get stuck in an expression. Always attempt to return to a natural, relaxed position.
After you have mastered talking to people close to you, maintain your presence when walking around school, work, or outside. People may comment that you look a little different. Do not be discouraged. It is likely that tensions will return. Just be sure not to judge yourself. This is a process and is different for each person.
Notice the tension and allow yourself to release it. When you walk down the street, try to make eye contact with strangers. Don’t force yourself to react in a particular way, just allow an expression to move through your body.
Check in afterwards, did your smile stick? Did the tension return to your face or body? Practice this until you remain relaxed when you greet strangers. In all situations, it is important to maintain your presence. If you have anxiety or fear, acknowledge it and allow yourself to move through it. Turn your focus to your breath and breathe out any tension.
This exercise will allow your energy to flow outwards.
3. Give others your full attention / full engagement
Try experimenting with being fully present. You cannot have presence if you are not fully here. Be Here Now, always or as often as you can
Make a decision to remove all distractions and fully concentrate on the person you are with. Notice how they seem, actively listen to what they say. If a distracting thought comes into your head just let it go. Notice how much more you get from the interaction when you do this and how much more engaged the other person is.
This exercise will enable you to relax and make strong connections with others.
4. Be spontaneous
Trust yourself to speak up in the moment, if a thought occurs to you give yourself permission to say it. If you have practised the other exercises then anything that occurs to you will be valid and insightful.
This exercise will develop your ability to speak with gravitas and authority.
5. Develop your vision
Spend time thinking about what you would like to be known for and what you aspire to do. If you know where you would like to go you can use this as a guide in all your interactions.
Think about the outcome you would like from each interaction you have and how this supports your vision.
This exercise will develop your ability to act as your own compass and hence not be knocked of course by others.