What do we expect most from presenters? To grasp our attention, to catch us by the quality of their presence and to make us remember them. To make a lasting impression and to feel connected with them. (Like this frog. Hmm, or maybe not…, anyway, it’s memorable!) To be fully present. Here and now. What does it mean for each of us? How does it look, sound and feel like when we are present and when we are NOT present? How to develop this “Presence”? This is going to be a short new series of posts. Today, I will focus on identifying “presence” and introduce you to the woman who inspires me most in my work, every single day, Patsy Rodenburg.
“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence.”
- Thich Nhat Hanh
Trying to grasp presence is like catching butterflies…I have been researching this theme of presence for years and observing what makes one person stand out from another when speaking in public. Yesterday, I was attending a passionate conference and debate on the controversial theme of men-women equality in Lyon. Guest speakers were among the best in their field, all seasonned experts and strongly committed to engage with the large and eager audience. Yet, as I observed them one after the other, I couldn’t help noticing the huge gaps between them, in terms of quality of presence. It was immediately reflected by the intensity of the applause and the level of interaction with the audience.
What’s the secret? It’s the quest of the Graal for everyone embarking on a journey of developing excellent presentation skills. Some call it charisma and believe that you either have it or not, which is pretty discouraging for the average ordinary presenter…
I am convinced that each of us is born with a beautiful natural presence that awaits to bloom.
“When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”
There again, — Thich Nhat Hanh
We simply un-learn how to manifest it when we grow up. Just like boldness, which I developed in last week’s post, we don’t know anymore how to express our common human gift of presence. Read “Re-learning to be Bold”. Fear of judgement, fear of rejection, insecurity, fear of exposing one’s self “naked”, vulnerable are among the main reasons why we lose this presence.We can all re-learn to manifest and develop our presence. First, we need to know the difference between being present and not being present.
One woman has developed a simply fantastic approach to presence. Her name is Patsy Rodenburg. She’s Britain’s most esteemed voice and acting coach. Rodenburg’s business is to identify and harness “Presence.” She has worked with all these famous actors: Daniel Day-Lewis, Ralph and Joseph Fiennes, Hugh Jackman, Daniel Craig, Jude Law, Orlando Bloom, Ewan McGregor, Nicole Kidman. Patsy Rodenburg has helped them identify what she calls the “Second Circle” zone, where presence really takes place.
“To live life to its fully Second Circle potential, you really need to allow yourself to return to the positive presence you were born with”
Here’s a short video where she demonstrates the three circles of energy and explains what it means to be in the second circle, the give and the take of being present.
How do you know when you are in the second circle?
You are in Second Circle if you:
- Feel Centered and Alert
- Feel your body belongs to you
- Feel the earth through your feet
- Feel your breath is easy and complete
- Know you reach people and they hear you when you speak
- Notice details in others — their eyes, their moods, their anxieties
- Are curious about a new idea, not judgmental
- Hear clearly
- Acknowledge the feelings of others
- See, hear, smell, touch something new which focuses this energy inside the whole of you
From Patsy Rodenberg’s book, The Second Circle.
In my next posts, I will provide examples of speakers who are speaking from this second circle and also explore the different approaches according to gender, especially in business relationships. If you have been reading my post on the Goldilocks syndrome in public speaking, you can see the links between the soft, almost apologizing “too cold” voice and the first circle and the aggressive, controlling “too hot” voice with the third circle.
I believe both men and women need to find their own balance, their own voice, which is neither hyper feminine, neither hyper masculine, but a “right” mixture of both dimensions, according to their personalities and to the context. Both women and men need to learn to speak each other ‘s language and invent a new language of power. That’s really what cooperation would mean for me, between men and women at work. Engaging a real dialogue, not a fight for one’s gender and priviledge.
That was one of the conclusions of yesterday’s debate on cooperation between women and men at work. Generation Y managers and workers are fed up with the sound and the look of power today. Young women don’t identify with women leaders as “masculine” role-models. What’s new is that young men also reject the dominant “macho” cultural model and are looking for a diversity in the ways to express their masculinity and eventually, a new model of Power and Leadership.
“We are not interested by power the way you’ve built it.”
(“Le pouvoir tel que vous l’avez construit ne nous interesse pas.” )
- Caroline Weber. HEC au féminin.
“Men want to be able to say I don’t know. But we are going to find solutions together”
“Men want to be able to express their suffering and even be able to cry.”
“Men want to break free from the norms of the masculinestraitjacket.”
(“Les hommes veulent pouvoir sortir du carcan des normes masculines.”)
–François Fatoux, Directeur général de l’ORSE (Observatoire sur la Responsabilité Sociétale des Entreprises)
I expect plenty of comments and reactions to this post! Please share your thoughts and questions with us, it will also feed the next posts.
What would the new voice of power look?