The Value of Presence and Energy

I recently saw an interview with Tina Turner. Her energy came through the TV screen and grabbed my attention. Tina is 77 years young and just hung up her singing and dancing roadshow a few years ago. She is a natural exuberant personality and you had the feeling that she was not “putting on,” she was really being herself.  Not all of us naturally exude that type of passion, excitement and energy and being “on” all the time would be exhausting.  However, if you give presentations or want to engage others do you ever feel like you need to turn it up a notch?  I do, so let’s talk about how to get your groove on.

Energy is all around you. It’s in your voice, your body language, your attitude and others “get” it from you the moment you enter a space.  Your energy has the power to engage, repel or just plain bore. If your career choice requires you to present and interact with others knowing how to boost your energy when needed is highly recommended. Here are some pointers:

  1. Approach others and greet them. Shake hands and be enthusiastic about seeing them. This sends a message of approachable open energy. Waiting for others to always reach out to you sends a more closed signal and the result may be less beneficial interaction with others.
  2. Be congruent – You want your gestures and the words coming out of your mouth to match up because your audience more readily trusts you and you exude confidence.   When your gestures don’t match up with your words you send mixed messages which creates confusion. There is a time and place to stand quietly with your arms and hands at your side however congruent animation is engaging.
  3. Movement – moving with purpose while presenting is engaging and conveys passion. Lose the lectern or podium – it hides about 75% of your body and….you look like you are hiding. When appropriate move towards your audience as if you are talking with them, not at them. Never pace and flail around - you will have their attention only because they are looking to see where you will go next. They just won’t be listening to what you are saying!
  4. Modulate your voice – vary your voice tone, speak louder, or softer, for more emphasis.
  5. OK – here’s the big one - Record yourself practicing to give a presentation: With all of the recording contraptions available today you don’t have to hunt down a friend to borrow a camera and tripod, it’s as easy as using a smartphone. Play it back and watch for gestures, enthusiasm, facial expressions, tone of voice and engagement.  I recently purchased an inexpensive webcam that clips on my computer. With the webcam turned on I recorded myself rehearsing a 10 - 15 minute teach-back, a requirement for those of us who train. I wanted an idea of how I was coming across in energy, gestures, body language and overall presence. Playing it back I could see areas where my presence was engaging and I could clearly see places where I needed to gesture more, move to create more energy or show enthusiasm in my voice.  It may take a few times but my suggestion is to record yourself, make notes, record again and watch your continued improvement.

You may have a cringe worthy moment when you think about recording yourself however overall it can be a huge confidence builder especially when you see all the areas you already do very well. Hold those positive images in your mind and build on them. When you are actually in front of a real audience the practice and attention to your message will show up in your presence and energy because you will be more confident.

We may not all have the energy of Tina Turner or another big name entertainer but we can all take a look at how we come across and make improvements in our energy and presence. There’s value and payoff for a little extra time.