Make your presence felt: The importance of preparation.

Guest post: Make your presence felt, by Justine Ballard

The importance of preparation

Many people think that presence comes down to a combination of natural charm, innate intelligence and sometimes good looks, but thankfully there is more to it than that and presence can be achieved by all of us.

Your professional presence is helped by 3 things:

  • being clear about your goals
  • being comfortable with who you are
  • and confident about what you are offering

These three things, together with practice and preparation will help you enormously.

The ‘P’s matter because, firstly, being very clear about the purpose and context of any meeting, will make it easier to work out what you really want to say and how you want to say it. This in turn will help you feel confident about what you are offering, as knowing whether you are selling, sharing information, negotiating or connecting will help you be clear about your approach.

Then the magic ingredient is practice. Just because we’ve been talking for the majority of our life time, doesn’t mean that we’re always very good at it. New or pressurised situations can sometimes cause us to become tongue-tied, stammer or forget what we want to say. We tend to become more tense and more nervous when we meet new or important people and our breath is more shallow.

However, if the words have already come out of your mouth before you say them in the meeting, you’ll have more chance of speaking with clarity and fluidity. By practicing the key points and the key phrases you want to make, you can communicate with more brevity clarity and passion.

A good way to do this is to tape yourself. You’ll find that your voice will sound different to how you normally hear it. You’ll understand better how others hear you and you’ll pick up when you’re using fillers, if your pace is too fast or too slow and if you speak in monotone. All of these things go against you having impact.

To understand your personal communication style in terms of your non-verbal communication, ask friends and family and anyone you can trust, to give you honest feedback on things like your posture, or how comfortable you look – and ask them to tell you if you have any distracting habits.

So to summarize, for real presence the key is to prepare and practice:

  • Be clear about the purpose of the meeting and the outcome you want.
  • Think about your audience and what you would need to know/ feel, if you were in their shoes.
  • Gain awareness of your communication style, through asking trusted friends for feedback.
  • Think about context – what kind of culture is it and how can you fit in?
  • Work out your key points, interesting facts or selling points and practice saying them out loud, so that they flow when you need them.

Justine Ballard is an Internal Communications Professional & Presence Coach. Click here to visit here website and click here to see her LinkedIn profile.

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