All of us have met them. Those larger-than-life people who seem to capture a whole room by just walking into it. They are often the people others naturally turn to for leadership or who find it easy to get people to listen to them.
In today’s world, where competitiveness favours those who stand out, these kinds of people evoke unspoken aspirations of “I want what they have”, or, unfortunately, they make the more introverted retreat into their shells.
People with presence. Can everyone be ‘like that’? Should everyone? I must be honest, the idea that personal and professional success seemingly depends on how ‘out there’ you are, does not fill me with a whole lot of confidence.
Speaking of which, perhaps the ‘presence’ factor that we all respond to in some way boils down to healthy confidence – not a pumped-up version that some people employ to appear confident and which invariably gets interpreted as being ‘loud’ and void of substance.
Those in the know say that having presence is about having a good internal view or attitude as well as outer impact, i.e. external behaviour, how one presents oneself.
Employers are increasingly underwriting the value of offering their employees courses in assertiveness or the like, normally as part of an employee development programme.
Not surprisingly, many coaching sessions begin by breaking through the various fears that contribute to shyness, acquired through the different stages of life. Not all types of shyness are created equal, meaning there is no silver bullet for solving shyness; but by using communication skills, people get to examine their behaviour in different contexts and learn new skills to help with both inner presence and outer impact.
Another key question to ask when developing your personal impact is what is your brand? However many eye rolls this question might elicit, we cannot deny its validity – we all represent something; people base their impressions of us by what we reflect in our dealings with them. If your brand is ‘deer in the headlights’, you will probably not be considered the ideal candidate for a ‘lion in the boardroom’ position.
Gaining a better understanding of how you see yourself and why you see yourself that way is a great place to start to cultivate already healthy beliefs and acquiring some new ones. Invariably, what you believe about yourself is translated into what you project to others – your brand.
Once you have that sorted, move forward by learning helpful skills to help you interact with others – how to use body language, listen, using the right words and tone of voice, using your environment to your advantage, and getting others to listen to you.
With that foundation laid, presenting oneself positively in a short time, and making and delivering a pitch become so much easier, as does using small talk to increase your presence and establishing rapport. From there the ability to tell engaging stories and embedding your ideal conclusions to get your point across also become easier.
While it is true that not everyone can capture a room by the size of their personality, it is also true that being more reserved does not relegate you to wall flower status. Ample learning opportunities exist to acquire the necessary skills to be seen, heard and taken seriously – use them!