Develop Your Presence


Your “presence” can be defined as your ability to make a strong impression on people who meet you. What’s the difference between being present and having presence? More interviews, more offers, more money and more promotions – and that’s just the short list.  Here’s how you can build on what you have.

Presence is comprised of several personal qualities: confidence, intelligence, and likeability are among them. If you have challenges with any of these qualities, it may be difficult for you to command attention in a crowded room, whether it’s at a networking event or career fair. There are two essential challenges: building your confidence, intelligence, or likeability and projecting those qualities. Your confidence can take a beating during a job search, but there’s no reason to let it show.

Tony Alessandra, PH.D, is the author of Charisma: Seven Keys to Developing the Magnetism that Leads to Success. According to Alessandra, charisma (from the Greek word meaning “gift of grace”) is what makes some people so compelling.  It’s hard to define, but easy to recognize.  He says that there are seven primary components to charisma, and the good news is that you can develop  – and possibly master – any of them.

  • Your silent message – Alessandra defines this as the signals you send before you begin to speak. Your eye contact, posture and smile are all parts of how people size you up.
  • Your ability to speak well- your voice, clarity of thought and vocabulary are all part of your speaking style.
  • Your listening skills – listening is an important part of communication that’s rarely taught, according to Alessandra.
  • Your persuasive talent – Terrific ideas only become important when others are willing to listen and follow them (and the people who have them.)
  • Your use of space and time – we all know that everyone has different perceptions of what “late” and “too close” means. Alessandra posits that skillful understanding and use of these elements can add to your personal power.
  • Your ability to adapt to others – understanding yourself is important, and understanding how to adapt your behavior to others’.
  • Your vision and ideas – Alessandra is correct when he says that you’ve got to have something interesting to say. Persuasion without ideas is just pretty noise.

Alessandra believes that each of us has each of these qualities to some degree; in this way, he’s equating it to the theory of multiple intelligences. The idea is that you may be very strong in one or two and less strong in others, or you may be average across the board.  Either way, you can focus on the skills one by one and learn to make them stronger.

Roxanne Kauffman, and executive coach, adds passion, the ability to see patterns and provide insight that others may not have and my favorite – humor – to her list of what makes up executive presence.  She suggest several methods of observing yourself as a stranger might, including leaving a long voicemail message for yourself so you can hear your voice as someone else would for the first time. She also suggests asking friends about their first impression upon meeting you.

These methods may help you prioritize what aspects of your charisma you want to work on first.  In future posts, I’ll explore Tony Alessandra’s tips for improving the components of charisma.

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One thought on “Develop Your Presence

  1. Pingback: Know Like and Trust | @work: a career blog

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