Present your message with presence
Have you ever been to a function and noticed all heads in the room turn to look at one person?
Have you been in the audience when a speaker mesmerised the audience?
These people exude confidence and charisma. They have a presence.
Most of us have to learn presence
Presence is one of those mysterious things that some people just have. But most of us have to learn it and earn it.
People want to listen to people with presence. We take notice of others with presence. People that have an impact have a powerful presence.
Presence is made up of four key factors: your voice, how you look, your stance and your body language.
- Your voice
- How you look
- Your stance
- Your body language.
How you sound
Some people have those smooth voices that are a dream to listen to, most of us have to work at it. A compelling voice commands presence.
So how do you improve your voice?
Read out loud in different voices
The good news is that we can work on our voices. One simple tip is simply to read out loud, whenever you can. If you have an audience of children, use your big, animated and, funny voices.
This simple tip of reading out loud to children works well. Don’t worry if there are no small children around. I have fur babies; they never tire of listening to a story!
Work on your breathing to increase your presence
Another easy to implement tip is to work on your breathing. The quality of your voice is determined by your breath quality. Work on improving the capacity of your diaphragm so that you can project your voice with ease. You will sound better, and you will look calmer and more confident.
Work on improving the capacity of your diaphragm so that you can project your voice with ease. You will sound better, and you will look calmer and more confident.
Warm up your voice before you speak and practice some exercises that strengthen your diagram. Try breathing in and out through a straw (not while you are speaking of course!), and practice diaphragmatic breathing instructions on how to do this
Diaphragmatic Breathing will increase the power of your voice
- Lie down on your back on the bed or floor. Place your feet flat on the floor with your knees bent. Focus on your breathing for a minute and try to tune in with which parts of your body your breath reaches.
- Place both hands on your belly, just above your navel. Watch how your breathing responds. Notice how your belly expands as you inhale and retract as you exhale. Let this happen, without forcing it.
- Then bring your attention to your hands as they rest on your bellow, and notice how your hands raise up as you inhale. Hold that breath or about 5 seconds. Then lower your hands slowly as you exhale all of your air. Repeat, 5 or 6 times, breathing through the nose.
- Once you feel comfortable with this exercise, on the inhale as your hands come down say out loud the vowels A-E-I-O-U.
Once you can breathe deep down into your belly, you will have more breath control and therefore more voice control.
Take your time
Speak at a steady pace and embrace silences and pauses – it’s not a race to the finish line. People who are present take their time and own the space – all of it, both physically with their stance, with the air they breathe, and with the words they languish.
How you look
If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you will project confidence. It’s hard to exude presence if you feel uncomfortable. Dress for the occasion and then forget how you look, focus on being present and in the moment.
Practice standing tall, exercises for posture or regular yoga class work wonders. Aim to stand with an open posture, which means avoiding leg crossing arms folding hand-clasping as well as hands behind back or in pockets. Aim to have your hands where others can see them. It is a sign of trust.
Own the space
Take in the space around you, breath in the space and own the space. Move with purpose, practice stillness, and walk with your head held high. People graced with presence are captivating to watch and listen to because their body language is commanding, confident and calm.
Remember to smile; it will help you feel relaxed and will send the signal that you are happy to be speaking to your listeners and they are in good hands. If you look miserable, you can’t expect your audience to be interested or excited about you being there.
How you feel
It’s okay to feel nervous when you have to present to an audience. Those sweaty palms, shaky hands and butterflies are all part of our physiological response. Stand up straight and remember to breathe. Be prepared for the moment look confident, and you will feel more confident. When you are ready to step up to the platform to speak, now is not the time to worry about last-minute details. Now is the time to focus and be 100% in the moment.
Don’t try to lose the butterflies leverage them
No-one needs to know what you are feeling on the inside. If you are feeling nervous (or terrified), keep that to your self.
An opportunity to serve
Appear to others like you are enjoying the experience. Speaking in front of an audience is an opportunity. As speakers we are there to serve, it’s never about us. As speakers, it is our job to make our audience feel comfortable; and if we are feeling awkward, then the chances are, our audience will feel awkward. If you can help them relax, they are more likely to be receptive to your message.
People with presence are charming and captivating. They are memorable, and they get asked back. Don’t worry if it doesn’t come naturally to you, work at it until it feels natural.
Aim for being present over being polished any time.
When you can touch and teach with your message, you will create a connection. If you focus on the tools and techniques or the mechanics of speaking, you will be aiming for perfection.
Connection trumps perfection. Be yourself and strive to create an environment where you can offer the best version of yourself and be fully present. Enjoy the moment.
Lisa Evans, MBA is a Certified World Class Speaking and Storytelling Coach, Keynote Speaker and TEDx Speaker Coach. Based in Australia, Lisa works with leaders globally to help them craft and deliver powerful presentations and compelling business stories.
My next one day Public Speaking and Business Storytelling for Leaders workshop is on 13 March in Perth find out more