What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason how infinite in qualities in form and moving how express and admiral. In action how like an angel. In apprehension how like a GD. The beauty of the world. The paragon of animals.
I trained as an actor. We were taught presence as a skill-set in order to turn up the voltage on our communication skills – so that the message will reach the audience powerfully and memorably. But of course PRESENCE and EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION are not only valuable for actors on a stage. Whoever you are and whatever the message -‘presence’ is the differentiator between forgettable and great.
Presence and Charisma are not the traits of the providential few. They belong to each of us. They are within us to be cultivated and activated. It is through understanding a basic communication skill set that we can become powerfully present and can invigorate our own lives and those around us. What is the skill set that helps us unlock our own powerful interpersonal communication?
It begins with understanding ourselves – we are the medium for the message; our body, thoughts, voices and imagination. It also means working with understanding correct breathing and being more aware of our surroundings. Like anything worth achieving it takes patience and time. Presence is energy and energy is either generated or repressed through the body. So we start with the BODY. A naturally placed body is centered, aligned and open. It is relaxed. The opposite of this is too much tension which is blocked and misdirected energy. Taking some time to notice ourselves and inviting release, we can go back to that place where we find that connected and open body, where breath is easy and our natural co-ordination is intact.
Right now let’s start with some awareness. Asking questions to ourselves is an invitation to engage more of our senses, bringing more of our available perception into the picture. How am I sitting/standing right now? Where are my feet? How am I breathing? Quick and shallow or low and slow? Are my shoulders held or can they go to a new broader and softer place? Is there a frown between my eyes and a clench in my jaw? Where is my head in relation to my spine? Do I feel light or heavy? For now there is no need to think in terms of ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, rather enjoying the ability to notice as a win in itself. With more knowledge of how we occupy space, we can become more capable of choosing as opposed to letting unconscious habits run the show.
The next time you want to summon some inner charisma or you need to turn up your communication skills (to deliver a powerful message or make your point clearly in a meeting or talk to that interesting person sitting next to you), think about allowing more space to open up in your body, in your breath. Think up and light. Remind yourself of the support available to you within and outside you. I sometimes use this little set of invitations: My body belongs to me; My breath is easy and complete; I feel the floor through my feet. Try it!