Career Corner: Communicating with Presence and Impact
In the latest of our coaching series of articles, we ask communication expert Carol Noakes to share her tips on how to develop greater presence and impact in our interactions at work.
Presence, charisma and gravitas are some of the words my clients often use to describe qualities to which they aspire. They often also believe these qualities are out of reach. If I asked you to scale your gravitas, or your ability to create rapport, what would you be measuring? If you wanted more impact, how would you go about getting it?
I am making a confident proposition: we can all develop our ability to embody consistent powerful presence. You have a physical and vocal instrument – the one you live in - and tuning it takes practice. With attention to how you use your body and voice, and awareness of the way you want to be perceived, you have the power to expand your positive impact on others. You can nurture the habits that are working well, and reshape or drop the ones that get in the way.
Simply by learning to let go of unhelpful tension, by deepening your breathing, and by building engagement in the core muscles that support your spine and your voice, you are on the road to looking, sounding and feeling much more confident and relaxed.
The beauty is that we exercise these physical, vocal and psychological habits all day every day, consciously and less consciously, so we have endless opportunities to practice something new.
Here is something for you to try immediately, for physical presence and calm.
- If you are sitting in a chair, sit up and feel your spine lengthen toward the ceiling, right the way up from your tailbone to the base of your skull. Roll your shoulders and let them drop away from your ears so any tension begins to melt away. Imagine your shoulder blades as a gentle anchor to help this feeling of relaxation in the back and softening in the chest.
- Put your feet flat on the floor, about hip-width apart, and pay attention for a moment to the feeling of support from the floor and the chair underneath you.
- Now put one hand lightly on your waist, and soften your abdomen to allow your breath to drop deeply into your lungs, so that you feel the muscles release as you breathe in. Then be aware of the same muscles engaging a little and pulling back towards the spine as you breathe out.
- Mentally track the passage of breath in and out over the next ten breath cycles, with awareness that this column of air is what fuels your voice.
- Stand up and apply the same principles, gently shaking out any tension from your arms and hands in addition. Walk with firm intention to a specific spot in the room (or wherever you are, inside or outside) and then pause and reset, feeling the body lengthen and widen, occupying that space with openness but also with solid grounding. Think of your core muscles as a place of strength and your upper body as free, fluid and mobile. Resettle your breathing and carry on with a greater sense of energy and composure.
See how often you can recapture this feeling as you move through your day, even for an instant, and encourage the habit of ease to grow. The more often you reconnect with yourself, the quicker your ability to reset will become – and that comfortable energy, aware of yourself and others, is a foundation for positive presence.
Carol Noakes is an MA-qualified voice and speaker coach from Voice Ltd who specialises in coaching and developing public speaking, presentations and confident communication with groups and individuals across different industries. She also coaches 1-1, working with self-awareness and self-direction. Carol has had a successful career as an actor in theatre, television and film before focusing on her passion for developing others’ performance.
Released On 10th Nov 2016