Cultivating Presence


Running a company (and trying to run a life) consumes a considerable amount of time so, needless to say, watching television rarely makes the “to do” list. When Fox announced a new series “Empire” featuring one of my favorite actors – Terrence Howard – intersected with my current case of the winter doldrums, I broke stride and checked it out. Apparently nearly 10 million other viewers did as well.

Terrence was in rare form and the plot moved along nicely, albeit predictably. Until ex-wife “Cookie” was sprung from prison and everything changed: actress Taraji P. Henson was the focal point of the episode from that point forward. Ms. Henson has – what we say in the PR business – presence.

Presence is built, not bought. People who have it know it and so do others around them. When they walk into a room, all eyes turn in their direction. And when they speak, others take heed.

How can you cultivate this level of impact? Botox, fur coats and new shoes won’t do it. It’s not about physical beauty, age or education. Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Stand Tall: posture matters. Head high, chin up, back straight. Slump and be slumped.
  • Remain Composed: Those with presence never sweat. And, if they do, no one ever knows. Make eye contact, centralize your energy and convey confidence.
  • Be the Canvas: Sweatshirts and yoga pants never make memorable impression. Take time to decorate you with the same care you would your home.
  • Laser-like Focus: People with presence are mindful as well. They rivet their attention to the task or person at hand instead of trying to scroll through LinkedIn updates on their phone while talking to you.

If you haven’t seen Empire, check it out. Cookie is a great role model (despite her checkered dossier) for anyone seeking to advance their impact in 2015. The best present you can’t buy is presence.