How to have presence: a user’s guide Premium

To read the article in full, become Privileged Subscriber or log in


The Dalai Lama, Steve Jobs, Angela Merkel, and Pope Francis are not necessarily geniuses, the most attractive, or the best speakers. But they are all gifted with a strong presence that captures the attention of others. They know how to persuade, seduce, and mobilize. Is strong presence an innate talent? No, in fact, it requires constant effort to control your thoughts, words, and body. Business Digest invites you to develop the six characteristics that give these leaders strong presence!

1. Coolness: They are able to control their emotions while retaining their ability to perceive the emotions of others.

2. Connection: They know how to put others at ease by adapting to their expectations and their communication style; they know how to value their employees.

3. Presence in the moment: They are not just there because they have to be; they show that they are implicated in interactions, are listening, and do not get distracted.

4. Trust: They seem sure of themselves and their choices (without arrogance) and all their body signals are in unison: posture, gaze, voice, etc.

5. Mastery of language: They have overcome bad linguistic habits (“um, well, blah”), ambiguous expressions (“sort of”, “one might say”), and mannerisms (“I mean”).

6. Clarity and brevity: They are able to summarize their message in 10 words and do not hog the conversation for the pleasure of showing their knowledge of details.

Above all, when it comes to presence, stay vigilant: You can build a managerial presence but you can also lose it when circumstances change (new functions, new colleagues, economic change, and so on). Presence is not static, it must be maintained and shaped.


Read our dossier:

How to have presence: a user’s guide

Based on Own the Room: Discover Your Signature Voice to Master Your Leadership Presence by Amy Jen Su and Muriel Maignan Wilkins (Harvard Business Review Press, April 2013), “Developing Executive Presence” by Joshua Ehrlich (HBR Blog, December 2011) and “7 Traits Of Executive Presence, The Key To Winning People Over” by Jun Medalla (Business Insider, September 2013).
Business Digest N° 245, April 2014.