Here’s what I've learned from improvisation about my presence:
Self-awareness and self-consciousness are two different things. We can be aware of what we are doing without worrying about it or allowing it to make ourselves uncomfortable.
To control our appearance, it can help first to be aware of what we are currently doing with our mind and body.
Paul Z Jackson leads a body focus exercise during a workshop, in which we walk around the room, noticing what's going on - first inside us and then in the room. It was interesting to see how quickly my thoughts could wander from the activity to "Have I left the stove on?" and "What shall I have for dinner?".
Such past and future-oriented thinking was further highlighted by a seemingly simple word-at-a-time game. Lee Simpson pointed out to us that we can tell where our mind is by noticing how much we use the past, present or future tense. Do we use the words 'went', 'am going', 'will go'?
We can gain presence by keeping our thoughts in the present. People call this 'mindfulness', which you can achieve by noticing your body and paying attention to the language you use to express yourself.
2. Presence = Confidence = Presence
Presence rarely means being the loudest person in the room. It’s more of a poised relationship with our environment and the people around us.
Confident people radiate presence. They appear comfortable the way they are and show no need to impress anyone. Tricks to raise our confidence also increase our presence.
3. Body language
As we walk through a room, we can deliberately focus on different parts of our body. It’s clear that some postures contribute more to a feeling and appearance of confidence and presence.
You can use your observation skills to notice how confident people move and stand still. They walk in a purposeful direction, maintain eye contact, speak at a good pace and make every gesture count.
People who lack confidence and presence, by contrast, make excess movements, avoid eye contact and speak too fast or too quietly.
I'm sure you are familiar with the saying 'fake it 'till you make it'. This applies to confidence and presenting yourself. By adopting the body language of confidence, we start to feel more confident, more relaxed and more present.
Improvisation for Presence and Performing