I recently coached a woman who had flown in from Jamaica to meet with me about how she presented herself within her company. A couple of weeks after she returned home, she shared a story that highlights how her professional presence had improved.
“When I returned to work, I received many compliments on one of my outfits. I had worn that clothing to work 10 times in the past and no one had complimented me about it. No one! I believe what caused this difference was that after coaching, I was projecting myself with confidence and making my presence known!”
I was delighted, and my first thought was, what a great story to illustrate the power of that hard-to-define something we call presence.
What made the difference for her? There could be many things contributing, as Cary Grant, a former Hollywood leading man, once observed: “It takes 500 small details to add up to one favorable impression.” But I believe the following five items that we discussed were very important. They gave her more self-confidence and increased her presence, resulting in others taking note of her – and her clothing – more favorably:
1. Good posture. When you stand tall, you are more apt to be noticed. It has little to do with how tall you actually are. You can stand tall regardless of your height.
2. Eye contact. When you look at people and make eye contact, they are more likely to engage with you. Many of us have a tendency to look away in an uncomfortable situation. By doing this, you are telling the other person that you are nervous. You don’t want to do that. Force yourself to look at the person – though you can occasionally glance away.
3. Volume. You can usually add power to your presence by adding volume. When you speak loudly enough to be heard clearly, people are less likely to ignore your ideas. Speaking too softly was a big area of concern for the business woman from Jamaica.
4. Offer your opinion. If you don’t express your opinion in meetings, people don’t know what you think. Preparing ahead of time for a meeting can help you to speak up with confidence. Make sure you speak early in the meeting. The longer you wait to speak, the harder it becomes.
5. Confront others. Learning to confront others in what I call a “polite and powerful” manner allows you to speak up, express what’s bothering you, and feel good about it. Additional information on conflict can be found in my book, The Power of Positive Confrontation: The Skills You Need to Handle Conflicts at Work, at Home, Online, and In Life.
Which of these items do you need to add to your image to help you experience the power of presence?
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