What is presence? Can I increase my own presence?

Often in our workshops  the question of personal presence arises. We talk about being ‘centred’ and how actors use this as a term to denote readiness for ‘action’.  Being centred is also taught in any martial arts training.  Your centre, as a place for balance, means your centre of gravity is located around the navel. We use an effective exercise to find centredness and to discover your physical centre simply by thinking low in the body. When doing this you gain stability with flexibility.

But does a centred person have more presence?  The clue is in the word – when we have presence we are actively in the room and aware. It is a quality that draws attention because when we are present we are alert, engaged and contributing. So being centred becomes one of the first physical attributes we need to access for presence.  When centred you have to be in good alignment. Have you ever noticed that babies always are – they have perfect posture once they learn to sit up. I sometimes use the analogy of a there never being a baby that does not invite being looked at, albeit in an involuntary way. They do so for survival. For good alignment your spine is fully flexed, lengthening  in the neck and small of back. Your shoulders are also dropped and wide. You look strong but also vulnerable. You can catch but you can also throw – a punch or a ball.

Centred can also be sexy. It has a ‘look at me’ quality and sexy is usually also a mixture of strength and vulnerability. When public speaking you have chosen to be looked at.  Often people don’t feel they have made the choice. In fact they have by dint of being in the job they do.  Once you overcome the feeling of ‘I don’t like being looked at’ and accept the responsibility of being in the spotlight and doing a professional job it does become easier. You can  choose to be seen and when you do you are already developing your presence. Of course some people take longer to find or exploit what is natural but we all have it. Remember you can also switch it off.

For greater presence:

Stand in alignment -your feet hip width apart,  long spine, shoulders dropped and wide, head on top (bobbing on a fountain!) Don’t be rigid – but don’t collapse either.

Relax and breathe in gently

Keep your knees soft (not locked) – think low in the body, feel your feet spread on the floor.

Relax and breathe in gently

Imagine seeing your audience and taking the time to look at them before speaking. Don’t let them rush you. You are in charge once out front.

Relax and breathe in gently

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