We all have presence of some kind. It’s a combination of how we look at any given time, how we sound and what we say. Our words are like bone structure or IQ – helpful, but not a guarantee of success. Presence has more to do with skills we can hone than attributes with which we’re born.
When you walk into a room – or meet someone, or speak – you make an impression. Like it or not, you are judged on those first impressions – on how you look and sound. If people are impressed by your visual and vocal messages, they’ll pay attention long enough to listen to what you have to say.
If not, you’ve lost them.
It’s up to you to optimise the way you communicate; by being brave and learning more effective ways to use your voice, body language and personal presence to connect with people.
As a concept presence is hard for us to define. As an audience, we sense someone has presence before we can work out the tangibles of why.
Every speaker can generate presence. As a speaker, you can do this by being authentic, and by matching your vocal volume and range and your body language to your audience. Bigger groups need bigger gestures, so everyone gets the message.
When you prepare for an interaction – for example a meeting or presentation – how long do you spend on the content (the words)? How long on your non-verbal messages – how you look, your body language, your environment – and how long on the way you use your voice?
Most people spend a lot of time on the words of their speech or presentation. But how you look and sound to the audience will have far more impact than the words you say.
Psychologist Albert Mehrabian found that many interactions with emotive elements contain visual, vocal and verbal messages in the following proportions: 55% visual, 38% vocal, 7% verbal. Seems a bit skewed? Think about how often you know what someone’s going to say before you hear the words. Yes you passed, or no you failed. Yes you have the finance, no you don’t. I do, or ‘what the hell am I doing in this church get me outta here?!’
Having defined the way you want others to experience you, you now have the task of constructing that experience, rather than leaving it to chance.
REDgum Communications workshops can help you create that positive presence.
How and how often do your visual, vocal and verbal messages contradict each other?
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