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Personal Presence – the real thing

People who have personal presence do not put on an act. Their strength comes from being more truly themselves

A central principle of our work at Jo Ouston & Co is the concept of Personal Presence. When business leaders or politicians are under the spotlight – for example in TV debates or party conferences – it is so often their personal presence that attracts comment and discussion.  Indeed it is that presence that determines their credibility or lack of it. Although we can all think of people that we consider to have great presence, it is not so easy to identify the specific elements that give rise to it or to say how others could also achieve it.

It’s not an act

In recent years a whole host of quick-fix solutions of the ‘seven steps to greater impact’ variety have flooded the market. But there is more to developing presence than simply using a formula, a pre-determined set of phrases or tried and trusted body language cues.

People with personal presence who inspire and get buy-in from others are not putting on an act. They are real and their authenticity is what makes people believe in them. For me it comes down to the difference between ‘doing something different’ and ‘being something different’ … and that will always be specific to each individual.

We are interested in developing leaders and managers who are true to themselves and committed to being effective. This is a strong foundation for leadership development. It inspires confidence, engages commitment and enables others to trust them.

Doing what comes naturally

Everyone has their own natural ways of communicating that they use in their everyday lives. The key is not to get derailed by new situations or when under pressure so that we lose our presence of mind and suddenly forget how to do things that are second nature. Many of us have left a meeting thinking ‘why did I ramble on that last point’ or ‘I completely forgot to mention xyz …’

To be more truly ourselves and perform at our best, we need to control our physical state so that we can be alert and aware of what is going on inside us and around us. If we are calm and ‘centred’ and breathing properly so that the brain is oxygenated, we can think clearly. The ideas flow, we are more articulate and we find the right answers.

Thinking of others

We are ready to take on any challenge and have the flexibility of behaviour to deal with situations appropriately. We are able to take and interest in those around us rather than worrying about our own self-consciousness. And we are able to focus our attention and energy on other people so that they feel that they are being listened to and heard.

Personal presence is about being more truly yourself and having the ability and confidence to rely on qualities you use naturally when you are relaxed, in control and able to be generous with your energy, achieving the best for yourself and for others.

Jo Ouston