Have you ever cultivated the thought that you could benefit from enhancing your personal presence, but struggle to find the time and energy to do anything about it? Here are some small steps you can take to move you in the right direction.
Step one – find out how you are doing
Is it really as bad as you think? Or is it worse? Presence is in the eye of the beholder, so the only way to find out how you are perceived is to ask people you trust for feedback. Two brief questions are enough:
- What’s the general impression of me?
- What could I change that would have a big positive impact on my presence?
If you are uncomfortable asking colleagues for feedback, you can attend a presence workshop to find out how others see you.
Step two – decide how you want to show up and be with others
Now that you know how come across, how would you like people to think and speak of you? Define your presence intention in as few words as possible. Keep it simple and easy to remember, for example: “I want others to see me as confident, generous, and courageous:”
The above statement could be your general presence intention. Before an important meeting or interaction, it is also helpful to set a situation-specific intention on what presence or energy you want to bring into the room in order to increase your chances of achieving what you want. As an example, if you know that a person or situation tends to trigger you to be defensive about your ideas, you may decide to deliberately remain open and listen to other points of view.
Step three – pick a purposeful mini practice
With mini practice, I mean a conscious change in attitude or behaviour that does not require more than 5 minutes of your time every day. The practice/s to choose will depend on what you believe will have the largest impact on closing the gap between how you currently show up and how you would like to be seen. Here are some examples of mini-practices adopted by my coachees:
- Give somebody five minutes of your undivided attention (to practice active listening).
- Walk like a star/president/CEO/queen on your way to the bus/coffee machine/meeting room (to practice tall posture and gravitas).
- Focus on modulating your voice for more clarity and impact.
- Speak succinctly, avoiding fillers and weak language
- Prepare for a meeting putting yourself in your stakeholder’s/client’s shoes
The power lies in repeating your brief practice every day in a focused manner, until you notice an improvement. For this to happen, be clear about when and how you will practice.
The most important thing is to get started
It does not matter where you start, the important thing is THAT you start. Your mini practice may be something as worldly and simple-sounding as smiling more often. But by doing it, frequently and consistently, you will notice how other people’s behaviour will change in a positive reaction to your smile. With every little improvement, you will be more encouraged to try something else and keep working on your presence. And remember, the goal is not to become perfect – it is to build your credibility, likeability and ability to positively influence others.