Presence is vital for business success

“Another day, another dollar”.
Research suggests that we spend around 80% of our working lives doing things that are not maximising our efforts, and only 20% of each day effectively using our time. Work habits can become monotonous; “another day, another dollar”. Day after day we repeat the same route to work, we start each day acting out the same old routines, and complete a set of behaviours that can cause our brains to ‘switch off’. Have you ever driven to work and not remembered some of the journey?

It’s just like when we are presenting a message. Sometimes we deliver it in such a way that it feels like we haven’t actually started; we just don’t feel there. The audience feels distant and unresponsive, our brains are focussed on other things and the impact is non-existent. Some of us have a desire to get the whole thing over as soon as possible because of nerves, panic or fear. Some of us have just been given a pre-written presentation with no connection to our own personal responses to the message. Some of us are distracted by technical malfunctions that push us off track and some of us are just plain tired. The list of reasons as to why we are not present goes on yet they all result in a lack of impact that shows and can have lasting damages on our audiences.

Being present is vital for business success. But what is presence? It can be defined as being fully alert to what is going on inside you, and being fully alert to what is going on around you – all in the moment in which it is happening. You must be fully mentally and physically ‘on the job’. By living in the moment without distractions of things in the past or the prospect of the future, you are not affected mentally or physically, and can focus fully on now.

Yet how many people do you know who do not seem fully present? Pick the first one that comes to mind – how can you tell they are not present, and what effect does this have on you or their audiences? Now think of a person who does have presence. How do they demonstrate it? What effect does this have on you or their audiences?

How present are you when communicating with your key audiences? Write a list of these key audiences and assess your presence: 0 being ‘low presence’ to 5 being ‘fully present’. Are patterns emerging that reveal certain times when presence is lacking or full, and if so, why? Many Marcus-Wolf clients recognise that their presence is reduced when speaking to those in authority. Others find that they are more present when talking in one to one situations as opposed to in large formal presentations. The key is to identify when your individual presence is low or high, and work to improve situations where it is poor.

So how can we start to develop our presence?

It starts with feeling really connected with your physicality.

Try this exercise to feel relaxed and connected to your body:
Standing or sitting straight work through your body, starting with your feet and working up to your head, recognising areas of muscular tension. Once identified imagine breathing in liquid gold into these areas; allow the liquid gold to fill up, energise and melt the tension away. Aim to become fully relaxed and integrated with your body. The more your muscles are free and relaxed the more you can physically communicate as one responding whole. This creates presence.

Re-connect with your emotions.
Your emotional centre sits in your tummy. This is the area we protect when we are vulnerable or open up when we want to connect (i.e. hugging someone). Being present means being in tune with your emotions and allowing the right emotional energy out in order to impact your message.

Here’s an exercise to help you focus on your emotional response:
Blow out all your breath on a shhhh then wait, until you really need to take a breath in. When you need to take this breath in, release your stomach muscles into your belt area so that you encourage a deep breath into your emotional centre. Repeat this four times. Allow yourself to start to generate an emotional response to the environment you need to shine in. Using your breathing technique visualise what success looks like to you, and allow a generation of emotions to develop that mirror that success. Hold onto those emotions by keeping the breath deep and connected with your emotional centre whilst you communicate.

Having a heightened level of awareness:

Here’s an exercise to help you improve your own awareness.
Take time to stop what you are doing. Lie or sit down and relax your physicality and breathing. Shut your eyes and start to really listen to the sounds happening all around you in the room. Ask yourself these questions: how many sounds can you hear; what do they sound like; how do they make you feel; do they affect your physicality? Then take your attention to the sounds that are happening outside of your room but inside the building. Repeat the questions to yourself: how many can you hear; what do they sound like; how do they make you feel; do they affect your physicality? Then take your attention to the sounds that are happening outside of the building and repeat the same questions again. Notice how alert your senses are at the same time as noting how you are feeling emotionally and physically. Now take this heightened sense of awareness – of what is going on inside you and what is going on outside of you – into your day. The aim is to ensure that in every situation you are alert to external stimuli, recognising its positive or negative effect on your presence. Remember the more relaxed yet energised your physicality is, and the deeper and released your breath is, the more presence you will naturally emit. Don’t let external stress affect your impact.

The aim of developing presence is to think, act and talk as one whole. It’s about maximising your awareness and creating a new mode of being that moves you from good to great in all that you do. Living and responding in the moment you will have energy, mental openness and sharpened thinking. Use the tips given to start to: a) explore what presence means; b) help you become aware of your level of presence; and c) start to enhance your presence. Doing these exercises before you go into demanding environments will greatly improve your impact and business success.

For enquiries about bespoke one to one leadership presentation programmes or leadership workshops please contact me for a confidential exploratory conversation: +44 (0) 7961 373 774 or email Nicolette@marcus-wolf.com