Presence is defined by the people around you; it is the quality of being a positive, present and engaging entity in the mind of the other person. We talk of stage presence, of leadership presence, of executive presence.
Presence is something that you are, habitually, not just something that you do. You will find that most people who ‘have’ presence are assertive, empathic, courageous, authentic, and more. When you talk to them, they are focused on you, now, here. They are not aggressive or submissive; they are not pretentious; they are tactful, but not afraid to give honest opinions.
To build presence in yourself, you must address your own mindset—your way of seeing other people and your own relationships with them—your courage, and your authenticity. You probably need to learn a few simple methodologies, such as assertive ways of speaking that can be as easy as a different sentence structure.
Meanwhile, here are a couple of habits that you can develop to begin the process.
- when listening, focus totally on what the speaker is saying and feeling, and allow the speaker plenty of time to express ideas (be silent—silence is an important part of presence);
- when telling a story, move your language into the present tense, and imagine yourself fully present in the story--and you will feel your audience move right into the story and experience it with you.
Here’s an alternative definition: Presence is the quality of being present—in time and space, in thought and feeling—with the people around you. So practise total undistracted focus on the person you are with—not on yourself, or somewhere else, or the past, or the future. Make it a habit.
I offer individual or group coaching on presence, or can deliver a seminar in almost any format.