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Your Powerful Presence

2010/12/02 12:00 AM
By Jerry Browning,

(This article appears in the Winter 2010-2011 Edition of the Collective for Women Magazine, a supplement to The Women’s Book.)

Presence is the frame around our credentials and experience that contributes or detracts from our overall capabilities. Our presence plays a large part in our making powerful connections and becoming known for our strengths.

Have you ever had someone else say exactly what you had said before, and then everyone listened to them more than when you said it? Are you the ‘go to’ resource for your area of expertise, or is someone else’s opinion requested instead? Often these issues go beyond communication skills or having the right position at work. Our presence can make or break our success. 

A recent analysis of executives revealed that female managers ranked higher than their male counterparts in almost every measure (motivating others, goal-setting, listening, etc.)  except one area: confidence.  Confidence is a large part of presence. Women struggle with varying dilemmas around presence. Some were socialized to be modest, timid, and soft-spoken. Others may have fostered strength in ways that are too cold, overly direct, and misunderstood. Professional presence is not about being preoccupied with projecting an image. Presence exudes inner qualities beyond the words you say and what you wear.

Powerful presence can be acquired to increase your success. Explore the categories of PersonalInterpersonal, and Dynamic Presence:


Personal Presence is about utilizing your body, voice, and energy to connect with the power of who you are.

Body - Polished appearance, posture & poise, centered, calm, confident
Voice - Pleasing even tone, Increase volume without higher pitch
Energy - Being in the room – present & focused, eye contact, giving attention

Interpersonal Presence includes your passion, your message, and how you engage with others.

Passion - Express beliefs easily and respectfully, Use emotions appropriately, Show what you care for
Message - Clear and direct with proper grammar, Easy to follow pace, Pause for intensity and connection
Engagement - Warmth, Asking for response, Listening, Open & honest, Interested

Dynamic Presence is experienced by others through your competence, trust and results.

Competence - Say that which adds value, Provide knowledge & understanding, Be curious
Trust - Sincerity, Consistency, Reliability, Caring
Results - Talk about your relevant accomplishments, Produce timely deliverables & expect the same

There are many ways to improve our presence. All require that we gain feedback from others. Your workplace may already provide feedback that you could use more fully to develop your presence. Utilize performance appraisal conversations to gain insight on where you might improve. Ask for feedback from a trusted colleague or manager. Professional coaching is also used to enhance presence.

How is your presence contributing to your success?

Jerry Browning knows people and business. She founded Chiron Company in 2004 to provide solutions that enrich wellness for people and healthy bottom lines for business.  Her work over 25 years in leadership, productivity, resource alignment, and conflict resolution has brought about her motto, "Your Success is My Business."