Here’s what it comes down to. It doesn’t matter how much you know or how much talent you have. If you don’t project the proper presence, you’ll never make the impact you’re after.
Probably most of you reading this have gone on a job interview at some point or another. Think about it – you have to convince someone who’s a virtual stranger to hire you. Persuading that person can often be a more difficult job than the position you’re being considered for.
Well, becoming a MediaMaster is much like preparing for the biggest job interview of your life. However, instead of having to impress one or two executives at a company, you have to impress thousands – or even millions – of people with your persona.
That’s why now – before you even think of appearing in any kind of media – is the time you should be working on elevating your presence. You want to be able to showcase the best possible version of yourself in whatever venue you appear, so you can maximize every second of exposure and leverage it to your advantage.
Maybe you have a naturally powerful presence. If so, that’s awesome. But most people don’t. If you’re someone who needs some help in this area, practice. And keep practicing until you internalize your own personal power. It sounds like a cliché, but it’s all based on very scientific principles.
If you don’t work on improving your presence, you could be cheating yourself – and underrepresenting your worth and your knowledge. Instead, develop the kind of presence that will cause your intended audience to stand up and take notice of what you have to say.
ACTION STEPS TO BUILDING YOUR PRESENCE
I’m going to share some tips on how to increase your presence through a few simple and practical Action Steps that anyone can do. These Action Steps are paraphrased from Amy Cuddy’s new bestseller Presence, and will help you boost your presentation skills:
Action Step #1: Pay attention to your body.
When you head into a stressful situation (such as a webcast or interview), your body responds as if it’s in a threatening physical situation. However, a tiger is not chasing you (as far as we know – maybe check on breakouts at your local zoo). So, remind yourself that your body is overreacting and adjust your posture so it’s expansive, not closed up.
Action Step #2: Take two minutes before a presentation to increase your presence.
Cuddy advises that you take a couple of minutes before doing a presentation or appearing on camera to work on your body posture and increase the power of your presence. This is enough time to create the needed chemical changes that will boost your confidence and cause you to appear in control and authoritative.
Action Step #3: Continue to keep tabs on your stance.
If you stop monitoring your posture, your body language can easily collapse. Your shoulders can slump or you might close up your arms in a defensive move. Be aware of when this happens and adjust – after a while, this kind of adjustment will become a habit without you even having to be conscious of it.
Action Step #4: Keep track of triggers.
If you do find your body language making a negative change, try to identify what caused the change. Even ask yourself what things in your life make you feel powerless. When you understand your problem areas, you can gain more control of your mind-body connection.
Action Step #5: Master your body language adjustments.
To transform your body language and increase your presence, force your shoulders open and don’t allow your chest to go concave. Stretch yourself out – move around if you have to – and even rest your hands on a table or podium to make sure your body is staying open.
Action Step #6: Watch your breathing.
Breathing is also affected when our mentality becomes one of fight-or-flight. But again, let’s remember – there is NO tiger! So, pause and deliberately slow your breathing, as it will speed up when your nervous system feels threatened. By slowing your breathing, you signal your system that you are in rest-and-digest mode – which makes you feel safe.
Action Step #7: Slow your speech.
When you’re nervous, you also tend to speak faster. And that also feeds into a bad mind-body message, because fast speech makes you feel less powerful and appear less powerful. Have faith that your message is going to be one that an audience wants to hear and demonstrate confidence when you speak. (Mea Culpa: I regularly violate this rule!)
Action Step #8: Be confident, not cocky
Don’t misunderstand what’s being said here; being confident does not mean being arrogant or defensive. When people are truly self-assured and displaying positive presence, they feel relaxed enough to let their guard down – and are able to hear criticism without responding in an angry or hurtful manner. This is often what you recognize as “authenticity” in others. You don’t have to act like you have all the answers, because nobody does.
• Action Step #9: Set an alert
Finally, use today’s sophisticated smartphones to your advantage. At the beginning of your process to develop presence, set an alert on your phone that will remind you to check your body language and make sure you’re keeping it on track. If you find it’s not where you want it, quickly correct it. By doing this, you’ll develop an instinctive awareness of when your posture is changing, so you can quickly change your stance.
Practice these basics of presence and you’ll soon discover your presentation skills markedly improving. It’s an amazing way to pump up your impact and leave your audience hungry for more!