Whenever I work with clients who doubt their executive presence, they often are trying too hard to project an image instead of embracing who they are. It sounds deceptively easy to “just be yourself,” but there are many reasons why it’s a challenge.
It’s natural to feel pressured to perform, so you may appear tense or rushed to others. It’s also common to want to cover more than you can in a certain period of time. You may not have enough time to prepare or might not have slept well the night before. Because all these factors are possible and common, it’s important to develop a routine around being at the top of your game so that when you are in front of your target audience, you come off as a master, not a novice!
How Can You Naturally Have Presence?
- Take Care of Yourself. You want to be well rested, nourished, and emotionally strong. Make personal care a priority. As they say, “take care of yourself first, and then take care of others.”
- Develop Routines You Can Stick To. Whether it’s physical exercise, nutrition or vocal warmups, create ones that work for you and commit to them. Give yourself a break if you need one without judgment, and then recommit at your earliest opportunity. The regimen will support yourself discipline and that quality will impact how others perceive you.
- Reassess and Evaluate. Many of us are on automatic throughout the day. Instead, periodically check in and assess whether your daily routine is working for you. Do you need to modify it to get a better result? Do you need to record yourself to see how others see you? Make time to assess, restructure and change up the old routines so you continue to improve.
- Ask for Feedback. Make it part of your routine to ask others you trust and value to weigh in. Complacency is the enemy of progress. You need to know what others think of you to improve, realizing that as you progress in your career, different qualities matter. Take the changes into account, adjust, measure, and re-evaluate. Make sure you are being perceived the way you imagine you are.
- Fight Procrastination. It’s tempting to put it off until another day, and eventually time has gone by and you’ve lost your edge. If you want your presence to be natural, you have to work for it, but it’s less about “trying to project an image” and more about trusting yourself to let your true strengths shine through. You need to have a routine to do that.
- Get Support When You Need it. Some people try to do it themselves, and while their assessments tell them they don’t have the tools they need, they stick to the same routine. If you find you need help, take a class, get a Coach, ask your Mentor. While presence is natural, most of us have blind spots, and you may need new information, new tools, and structured exercises to attain a compelling presence.
- Speak From the Heart. While there are numerous ways to improve your speech, trusting yourself is the most basic. If you lead from the right place and connect to your best intentions, you are likely to get a better result. When you feel off-track or off-message, reconnect to your heart and speak again.
While speaking naturally and having presence takes awareness and practice, it doesn’t mean you have to pretend to be someone you are not or try excessively hard. If you find yourself in that state of mind, give some thought to the above areas of developing natural presence and see where it leads you!