Some years ago I attended a conference where I was blown away by the keynote speaker. It wasn’t the world’s greatest conference as I forgot what it was all about. Although the keynote speaker stayed in my mind long after. He had a presence and a way capturing the attention of the audience that I have rarely seen or experienced after.
Can you remember a time when someone mesmerised you?
One thing I knew for sure, that guy was prepared for this talk! His words were well choosen, they fitted exactly to the slides he used and his body movement and hand gestures were in tune. Recently I read about Steve Jobbs and how he went over and over his keynote presentations for 60 odd times to ensure it went perfectly on the day it mattered.
The same applies for us as leaders. When I have a one on one with my staff and I’m not prepared I not only feel bad I will miss things that needs addressing. Hence I take my time to review and have at hand what matters. During my studies I got told “Fail to prepare then be prepared to fail.” Later I learned the same for planning ahead (just substitute prepare with plan).
The other aspect of the same coin is respect for your audience or your staff member. They have invested in coming to see and hear you. It is just an act of courtesy on your part to honour their time and effort by being the best you can.
The final aspect of presence is giving your full attention to what you do right now. Many people told me about multi tasking and the importance of it. I disagree. To my experience you get a better result when you concentrate on the task or situation at hand. Think about the last time you had a discussion with a team member or your boss. Did the phone ring? What was the reaction of the other person when you didn’t take the call? They feel appreciated and important. And you didn’t get distracted now by someone who you will call back in 20 minutes anyway. Even better switch your phone to voicemail before the meeting!
Your Presence is your whole being. It is a physical and psychological state. And it is a mystical state. Being in the presence of a great person like John F Kennedy, Mother Teresa or the Dalai Lama would certainly energise your whole being and create an awe inspired feeling of presence. This is what you should aim for. Unconditional embrace of the situation, person, or task you are facing now.
Presence is also a symbol for personal integrity and a state of respect. Be prepared to achieve what you aim for when you set your whole being behind that goal.