Stage presence

The third P in Presentation is of course the most important, the P of Presence. Once again a simple concept that actually contains a huge complex of ideas. It is the culmination of the practise and preparation that allows you the presenter to stand up in front of the audience and even before you start speaking, the audience is looking to you thinking, “Okay, tell us what you think.”

The confidence in your story (p1) and supportive media (p2) should be the major part of this presence. Who am I kidding though? We are all, to some extent or other, terrified. In the previous post about confidence we covered the idea of “fake it ’til you make it.” And this is part of your presence. Standing tall, shoulders back and looking directly out into the audience shows the audience your confidence. It also, as Amy Cuddy points out, tells your body of your confidence and this has significant benefit.

This positive stance can also be augmented by moving away from defensive behaviours and hiding places. The commonest defensive behaviour is the “let’s all look at the screen whilst I read from it” manoeuvre. Most speakers do this subconciously, it is a product of using the supportive media as an autocue but principally allows you to avoid eye contact. Watch the next presenter you see. Even those who appear confident end up locked tightly to their script, unable to properly engage with the audience because of their need to constantly check their position in the script. Looking into the eyes of your audience will show you that they actually want you to do well.

Depending on the setup and your role within this, stepping out from behind the lectern will also give you more presence. It is a big step I appreciate but also makes a big statement. The audience will recognise your intention to engage with them and will value that and respond accordingly. Even in a more informal presentation, moving away from a defensive position such as behind a desk, sitting down or in some way hiding, adds to your presence and this will have a positive impact.

Presence is about existing, not hiding. Stand tall on your stage, your audience will value it and you will become it.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.