When someone walks into a room and others pay instant attention, it is because that person has cultivated their personal presence. Their persona fills the room like a physical force. People are drawn to what they say and they want to put their suggestions into practice. Their individual energy makes an impact wherever they go. They approach problems with confidence and have a well-defined belief system that drives them to act. A great leader understands the dynamics of how presence and power are major factors in earning respect. Find out how to develop personal presence that gets results.
Identify the Elements of Presence
Presence is desirable in leadership because it comes with the ability to influence others. In the fourth century B.C., Aristotle classified the elements of persuasion as follows:
- Logic – One’s ability to reason intelligently and communicate that knowledge to others.
- Character – The perception of trustworthiness and integrity.
- Emotion – How individuals create an emotional response in the listener that motivates them to act.
All three elements are necessary for persuasion. Before you set out to lead, make sure you understand everything you can about what you’re going to address. If you don’t know, be honest about it, and make it a point to find out. Create trust over time by showing you stand by your word. Build relationships for an emotional connection.
Analyze Your Body Language
A University of Pennsylvania study found most of communication is not related to the actual words we speak. They found 70 percent of communication comes through body language. Speakers convey an additional 23 percent through their tone and vocal modulation. Develop your personal presence by making sure your tone and stance aren’t working against you.
- Mirror your listener’s body language to show you understand their stance.
- Respect personal space, allowing an arm’s length for comfort but standing close enough to convey attentiveness.
- Control sighs, groans, and coughs so your involuntary sounds don’t speak for you.
- If you slouch, focus on improving your posture both when sitting and standing.
- During conversations, lean forward and make eye contact.
Evaluate Your Mindset
Note how you feel when you leave for work, when you attend meetings and when you interact with employees. Are you focused and energized or tired and distracted?
People will not perceive you as passionate and engaging if your default state is stressed and exhausted. If you want to cultivate a personal presence, you must first address the factors that take away from your energy and enthusiasm. Identify resources you can draw on for strength, eliminate energy drains and learn to work within your productive time.
When you work with others, make a conscious effort to be completely in the room. Instead of allowing your mind to focus on what you need to do later, concentrate on one task at a time. When you feel worry about what might go wrong, observe the emotion and set it aside to refocus on the people with whom you’re interacting.
Presence is difficult to define, but it can be developed. When mastered, you will be a more effective leader and enrich the lives of those around you. At MindSpring Metro DC we have a variety of programs that can support professionals in cultivating their personal presence. Read more about our Leadership, Professional Effectiveness, Effective Communication and Individual Coaching Programs.