Developing Personal Presence
In acting and modeling, presence (also commonly referred to as "it")
is an important part of getting people interested in you. In some spiritual
circles, presence and spirit are one in the same. Meditation, contemplation,
dance, chant, all seek to connect with something deeper. Presence is the
result of getting in contact with your deeper self.
- Lie on your back on the floor or otherwise place yourself in a comfortable
position. Make sure that nothing will distract you (unplug your phone,
close your door, ask people not to disturb you, etc.)
- Close your eyes and pay attention to your breath. Allow your breath
to fall in and out of you, unobstructed. Notice any place where your
breath begins to catch. Allow your breath to touch that place until
it opens and relaxes.
- Be sure not to judge your observations. Allow yourself to be in the
state you are in. Also know that your state is flexible and can change.
- Move your attention to your facial muscles. Start from the top of
your head and move your way down. Are you lifting your brow? Are you
holding your eyes closed too tightly? Are you flaring your nostrils?
Are you curling your lips in? Are you pulling your mouth into a frown?
Are you pulling your mouth into a smile? Is your jaw relaxed? Is your
- Concentrate on any tension in your face and take a deep breath in.
Imagine that you are delivering all of the oxygen from your breath straight
to the point on your face that is tense.
- Continue until your entire face and neck are relaxed. You should
feel your sinuses open up and your circulation become better (your may
feel more warmth or tingling in your skin). Your expression may feel
very different. Do not judge yourself, just notice what you notice.
Take the time to do this throughout your entire body. Allow each point
of tension to be filled with your breath. Allow these places to open and
relax. Pay close attention to the state of your body as this tells you
a lot about how you move through the world. After you are done, go over
to a mirror and look at yourself. You may be shocked because you look
a little different. Do not do anything, just observe how you have changed.
If at any time that you are studying your new body, you feel tensions
creeping back, take another deep breath and release this tension.
After the mirror, try talking to someone you know. They may comment
that you look a little different. Your voice may sound different as well.
You may seem more confident, more calm. Don't let this disturb you. If
you feel the tension creeping back, take a deep, silent breath and release
the tension again.
While you are talking to your friend or family member, allow yourself
to be expressive with your face as well as your body, but don't get stuck
in an expression. Always attempt to return to a natural, relaxed position.
After you have mastered talking to people close to you, maintain your
presence when walking around school, work, or outside. People may comment
that you look a little different. Do not be discouraged.
It is likely that tensions will return. Just be sure not to judge yourself.
This is a process and is different for each person. Notice the tension
and allow yourself to release it.
When you walk down the street, try to make eye contact with strangers.
Don't force yourself to react in a particular way, just allow an expression
to move through your body. Check in afterwards, did your smile stick?
Did the tension return to your face or body? Practice this until you remain
relaxed when you greet strangers.
In all situations, it is important to maintain your presence. If you
have anxiety or fear, acknowledge it and allow yourself to move through
it. Turn your focus to your breath and breathe out any tension.
- Presence is an elusive quality and is different for every person.
Try to investigate what presence means to you.
- Try making a list of words that describe your presence, ask others
what words they would use (only add these if you agree).
- Often we feel pressure from the outside world to conform to some unknown
state. This is normal and everyone deals with this in their own way.
When you notice someone observing you, try to accept what you perceive.
You have no need to block your perception as no one has the power to
change how you feel about yourself unless you let them.
- Failure to accept what is happening in the world is a large source
of tension in the body. Acceptance of what is in the world allow us
to work within our environment effectively.
- The goal is to relax. If you can allow yourself to be who and what
you are, others can observe your presence. Tension is a mechanism that
allows people to maintain a shape within their body and thus escape
the scrutiny of others. Remember that you are beautiful, no matter what
you look like, beauty comes from acceptance.
- After trying this exercise for the first time, you may not look your
absolute best. This is because the muscles that you used to tense have
probably caused other useful facial muscles to weaken. Only after weeks
or months of practice, unused muscles will strengthen again, giving
you the an irresistible "it" factor.
- Your expressions should consist of continuous movements. Your relaxed
state should not involve "holding" any one muscle in place. You are
constantly moving in very small ways. Actors often refer to the concept
of "stillness in motion." You can experience this in your neck very
easily by doing the following:
- Rotate your head about your neck in one direction.
- Ever so subtly make the circles smaller and smaller.
- Keep making your circles smaller until they disappear. If you
feel your head get stuck, start to make very small circles again
until you feel the stillness in motion.
- Another great exercise is to look at yourself in the mirror and smile
over a period of one full minute. Your face must be in motion for the
entire minute. This takes a lot of practice.
(a Russian acting teacher) likened relaxation to adding a controller
to your brain--a little man who searches out tension and goes to the
source to relieve it. You may have to do this consciously at first,
but after a while, your controller will learn to work on his own.
- Presence is often considered a rare quality, yet everyone has it and
has the potential to cultivate it. Presence can make people with otherwise
plain or "unattractive" features look intriguing and beautiful. Once
you have presence, people will notice you more. Do not be afraid, they
are just admiring you.
- As you begin to cultivate presence, people might get jealous and say
hurtful things. People who have not found a way to achieve a relaxed
state can often develop resentment for those who have. Just keep in
mind that presence is much more powerful than physical beauty.
- It is very important to remember not to become full of yourself once
you have started to achieve success. This is easiest way to taint your
presence. Judging others is just as unfair as being judged and it is
only when you are able to let go of judgments that you will be truly
free of them.
Next: Defining Personal