To be or not to be … present


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circles presenceSome people just have it. Whenever they walk into a room, everyone turns around and listens attentively. Some call it presence, others call it charisma. Many people believe that presence is God given – either you have it or you don’t.

Patsy Rodenburg – recognized as one of the world’s leading voice and acting coaches – challenges this belief in her book “Presence – How to use positive energy for success in every situation”. She argues that everyone can find their presence by focusing on the energy that comes from you and connects you to the outside world.

Rodenburg introduces the idea of three circles of energy to describe the movement and direction of human energy – body, breath, voice, how you listen, think and feel.

The First Circle is the circle of self and withdrawal. Your whole focus is inward, and you don’t like to get attention drawn to yourself. At its best, this equals introspection and reflection. However, your impact on the world is limited and you might come across as self-centered and uncaring.

In Third Circle you are spraying the world with your energy. The world is an audience for whom you are performing. You attract attention and may enthuse people, but you don’t engage specifically with anything or anyone. Others may find you overbearing and impersonal.

The Second Circle is the circle of connection and presence. Your energy is focused. It moves out toward the object of your attention, touches it and receives energy back from it. This is true two-way communication. You touch and influence people rather than impress or impose your will on them. You are noticed, heard, remembered and powerful.

While we move in and out of the three circles many times a day, most people tend to have a favourite one where we spend most of our time. Which one is yours? Does your voice struggle to make it out of the first circle – or does it over-shoot the target and end up in third?

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