Ten Ways to Develop Your Personal Presence

Ever met someone who has the ability to light up a room, to command attention, to convey gravitas, and make people want to talk with or listen to them?

People with presence and charisma tend to be better at influencing, at forming relationships, at being remembered – all critical components of personal and business success. Presence is an intriguing quality that some people seem to have naturally. And yet “presence” can also be learned, with increased awareness and practice. So how can you get it?

Here are 10 ways that can help you to develop your presence.

  1. Observe people you think of as having “Presence”. How do they engage with you and with others? What do they say and do? How do they dress, sit, walk and gesture? TED Talks are a wonderful source of presenters of all shapes, sizes, styles and subjects.

  2. Take a presentation or media skills course, join Toastmasters or a networking / business support group. Presence starts with inner confidence and all of these will help to build yours. You’ll get invaluable feedback if you are open to it.

  3. Get interested. Being genuinely interested in people and their lives, and being honest about yourself, to an appropriate level, is key. Learn to listen in a way that tells people that they and their views are important. But be genuine about it.

  4. Be mindful of your boundaries. People with presence generally know what behaviour is appropriate and when – such as being emotionally tuned in whilst not becoming overly emotional yourself, or being composed when a crisis is happening. Psychological and physical boundaries are both important - getting too close up to people you don't know or treating them like you're best mates if they're not can make them uncomfortable.

  5. Develop your meeting leading skills. By developing your group management skills you’ll learn a great deal about presence and impact. Ditch the PowerPoint, focus on connecting.

  6. Work on your networking. Think of it as developing relationships, not about working a room. The more interactions you have with others, the more you’ll be developing your presence. Focusing your attention on being interested and not on being interesting when networking helps to reduce any anxiety or self-consciousness.

  7. Read books, article and blogs on great leadership, presenting, confidence, communication, influencing – and make sure you read a quality newspaper or newsfeed each day – having something intelligent to say about a topical item adds to your presence and gravitas.

  8. Make reflection a habit. Keep a diary of when you felt your presence showed and when it did not – what did you learn today and how can you apply it in future?

  9. Dress for your next job, not just for this one. The way we look has a significant impact on people – rightly or wrongly. Make sure how you present yourself does you and your talents justice.

  10. Get feedback from people you genuinely trust – ask 5 people who you care about and who care about you, to tell you what you do well to make an impact and what you could usefully work on.

© Linda Aspey 2014