Presence is as difficult to define as it is to define art. It is easy to see but hard to pin down. You know it when you see it, but if you were asked to explain what it is, you would be hard pressed.
Presence isn’t a doing; it’s a being. People with a strong presence are different from one another as it manifests itself in different ways. From the way someone enters a room to how they engage and inspire others, presence is as individual as well, individuals. When someone has “presence”, their communication is engaging, compelling and very impactful.
Authenticity is at the heart of presence – knowing who you are, what you believe, what you value and how you show up in the world. Presence begins from the inside out. It is not something to be learned; rather, it is something to be developed or better yet, unfolded. It exists in all of us – it’s just that we have covered it up with how we think we need to be or act in the world. As a result, the authentic self is sitting below layers of social norms. And therefore, our presence is hidden as well.
I wish there was a pill you could take or a quick fix to unleash your presence, but alas, there isn’t.
Fortunately, there are a few elements that can help you start to uncover your own presence:
- Intention: Your state of mind, getting out of the way and making “it” about others. Doing what you can to realize that it is ultimately not about you, but rather, it is about everyone else.
- Authenticity: Sharing enthusiasm, passion and caring. Finding your passion and sharing it with others. Whether it is about a new idea, a product, a process, a change, the future or about the potential you see in others, share your enthusiasm. People are naturally drawn to “authentic” excitement.
- Connection: Truly linking with others. Being interested in others, and wanting to know about who they are, what drives them, what talents they have, what they are passionate about and what they value. Attention is what all people crave. It is what energizes and motivates them. Simply being interested in someone and connecting with them based on what you find is incredibly powerful. The intention to connect leaves a lasting impression and is valued by everyone.
- Communicating: It is key to communicate effectively, concisely and with clarity. Being direct and transparent is very compelling, and genuinely trying to understand other people’s perspectives is critical to effective communication. Hearing and being heard. Franklin Covey said, “Seek first to understand, then be understood.” There is no better rule for being a great communicator.
There are many other aspects to presence, but it comes down to first being as authentic as you can be, and by being yourself. Remember, our job is to uncover who that self really is, and it’s a journey worth taking. I suggest beginning with values and integrity – a great starting place.