While it's easy to think that charisma and presence are genetic - that you either have them or you don't - there's more to it than that. Charisma can be taught. And even the best public-speakers need to work at presenting well.

Workshops and classes are the best way to raise your game when it comes to presence, but even in the space of a short blog post, you can make an impactful change to your presence. 

 

Everyone is different

Any public-speaking coach worth their salt will tell you that your goal isn't to try to sound like a carbon-copy of your favorite speaker, it's to make the most of what you have. To amplify your message and boost your credibility - not to become an actor playing a part.

 

The elements of strong presence

Strong executive presence can be boiled down to a few key elements: making good eye contact, speaking loudly, and avoiding doing anything distracting with your body language. The best part? Working at just one of these will make a world of difference to how you present yourself and how you're perceived.

 

Where can you improve?

Which of these elements will make the biggest difference to your physical presence? Find out by filming yourself - or by asking someone for objective feedback. (Pro-tip: this someone should not be on your payroll.)

If your eyes are darting around or you're staring at the floor, you should focus on improving your eye contact. A good rule of thumb is to speak only when you're looking someone in the eye. Eye contact is tied to credibility. If you fail to engage someone with it, you will seem less confident and credible from the get-go.

Do you sound shy or quiet? Is every other word an "um" or a "so"? It's time to work on raising your Volume. Most people don't speak loudly enough when giving presentations or speaking in meetings. If you have a nervous rasp in your voice, a tendency to mumble, or an "um" habit, these will disappear when you start to speak louder. 

Perhaps you speak loudly and maintain strong eye contact, but something still looks a little off. How's your body language? Are you flailing around or pacing incessantly? Are your hands firmly in your pockets or hidden behind your back? Hold your ground (feet shoulder's width apart) and gesture with confidence. Gestures make you look more confident and support your verbal content. A good rule of thumb? Avoid doing anything repetitive or distracting. 

 

The short version 

Presence takes work.

But you can make a world of difference by working on just one of these elements: eyes, volume, or body language.