Is Your Presence Powerful or Powerless?

By: Kimberly Gerber | Date: Jan , 22. 2020.

It’s a fact that within the first seven (7) seconds of seeing you, people have formed a strong opinion of who you are, what you’re about and whether they want to pursue a relationship with you. Before you’ve even said a word, you have been assessed on several key factors including style, confidence, competence and friendliness. And when you do start to speak, according to a recent New York Times article, over 93% of what you communicate comes through body language. So while words matter, your presence is essential to your success. The question is: are you making a positive or a negative impact through the way you present yourself?

It’s even more important if you’re a leader in your organization. If you manage people or projects, the quality of your presence drives your ability to get this done effectively. In fact, a study conducted at MIT found that training in soft skills to boost executive presence issued a 250% return on investment. An additional study revealed that 62% of senior executives consider Presence or Gravitas the most important factor in hiring decisions. In a nutshell – a powerful presence is great for you and for the organization.

Now, if you’re thinking, “some people are just born with a powerful presence. There’s nothing I can do to change how other people perceive me.” You’re wrong. Presence is a combination of variables well within your own control. Your presence can be molded into almost anything you want it to be. A little effort spent improving your presence will make a HUGE difference in your first impression, and the result is a whole new world of possibilities.

The million-dollar question is, how do you create a powerful presence? Here are seven (7) techniques that will help you cultivate a truly impressive and powerful presence.

1. Stand Up Straight
When you slouch, you start to communicate insecurity, indifference, and a feeling of being powerless. Standing in a straight, upright position communicates self-confidence and builds trust among others. Practice doing so with your shoulders back and your head held high to project a powerful presence.

2. Make Eye Contact
Direct eye contact is another sign of confidence and trust. When you look someone in the eye, you’re communicating poise, interest, and calmness. If you tend to dart your eyes around or are constantly looking down, you’re communicating disinterest and insecurity. Neither one of those habits creates a positive impression or inspires confidence.

3. Wear a Genuine Smile
When you smile, you’re able to raise your energy while also signaling confidence and approachability. This is trust-building behavior that helps magnetize opportunities your way. Frowning communicates displeasure, stress, and worry, which tend to keep people away. Your smile doesn’t have to be super bright to have the desired effect; in fact, practicing “resting-smile-face,” can help shift perception about your general demeanor with very positive outcomes.

4. Take Up Space
Whether you are sitting or standing, the more space you take up, the more powerful you appear. Refrain from crossing arms and legs, keep your feet shoulder-width apart, keep your materials neat, yet also give them space in your area of the table.

5. Be Aware of Your Body Movement
When you move, take wider steps and keep your body positioned forward with your head neutral. Similar to the other suggestions, this communicates confidence and projects a powerful presence. If you walk with your shoulders and/or your head down, you’re showing others a lack of energy and confidence. It also helps to walk with your feet pointed forward and not inward or out to the side. Inward communicates insecurity while outward signals going in too many directions.

6. Dress the Part You Want to Play
How you dress and accessorize says a lot about your self-awareness and self-image. Your visual billboard is the first element people see and true to the saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” your billboard tells people a ton about who you are and how you feel about yourself. To maximize your power, dress intentionally and pay attention to the details. Others will – even when you don’t.

7. Engage Others 
Approaching people with a welcoming expression and open gestures is a sure sign of poise and approachability. Even if you prefer introversion, it doesn’t take a ton of energy to smile and extend a hand. Yet these small gestures in the first few seconds of an encounter can make a big impact on creating positive, powerful, and lasting impressions on people.

As you master these techniques, you’ll start to see a powerful presence reflected in the mirror and in the way others react to you and pull you in. The more competent and confident you are, the stronger and more talented your team will become, increasing the potential of the group. You’ll also feel more self-confident and as a result, your presence will become more magnetic and inspiring.

If you want to know more about improving your presence and optimizing your leadership effectiveness, I’d love to talk with you. I’ve opened up my schedule over the next couple of days to help motivated leaders discover their talents, understand their value, strengthen their skills and create a roadmap to executive success!

Book a free strategy call with me and we’ll talk about your leadership and career goals, what you love to do, and how we can help you accelerate your success. No strings attached! Click here to schedule your call today. I look forward to chatting soon!

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About the Author

Kimberly Gerber

Kimberly Gerber is the founder of Excelerate, an innovative leadership development firm specializing in coaching executives and their teams. For 30+ years, Kimberly has helped transform the impact of more than 1,600 leaders across industry-leading companies including Verizon, Allergan, Whirlpool, Revance, Blizzard, UCLA, Wescom and many others.

The creator of several innovative leadership development programs, Kimberly helps senior leaders create strategic vision, build strong cultures, elevate leadership presence, and finesse communication to strengthen their impact on teams and organizations. Committed to life-long learning, she completed undergrad and graduate studies in Communication, attained her Coaching Certification with Newfield Network, is an MBTI master practitioner and LACBA Certified Mediator.

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