Stage presence can be a mysterious term. We often hear that someone has an "amazing presence." But what does that actually mean?
It's not necessarily being flashy. I've been to enough open mics to know that the guy jumping around on the stage the most doesn't necessarily exude the most presence. (Sometime he exudes the opposite). While a high energy performer can have a great stage presence, a subdued folk singer can command a crowd just as well. Sometimes with an equal or even greater magnitude. So what is this elusive quality?
The term itself gives a clue: presence. Great performers are fully engaged with the moment. Each movement, each sentence carries a sense of fullness. They are not thinking about what to say or what to do or how they are doing it. They are just doing. And that commands a lot of attention.
The funny thing is, though, we are all living in this moment. We're here now -- how could we not be in the moment? But it's not the case that everyone has great presence. In that way, "living in the moment" isn't even that accurate to what it means to be present. It's more about being fully engaged with the moment. Continue reading →
I wrote yesterday about the concept of mental models. Here's a talk that does a great job explaining how our mental models affect us:
I love this talk because it dives right into challenging fundamental assumptions. That's where the real work of creating possibility begins. It's in the space where our perceived limitations get questioned and new actions can emerge. And, even more importantly, it's in the moment-to-moment process where the "magic" really occurs.
Next time, I will talk about the importance of moment-to-moment process in performance. It's what we call, "presence."
Like all relationships, the relationship we have with performing can change and grow. It's not fixed. The "oh my God, I've got to get up and speak tomorrow" anxiety isn't a fixed way of being, even if it feels like it is. That's some seriously good news.
How we relate to public speaking, just like we relate to people, depends on our unique mental framework. We aren't viewing the world as it absolutely is -- we see it through the filter of our thoughts and perceptions. These thoughts and perceptions are influenced by past experiences that make us think the way we perceive something is the way it is.
I don't want to get to abstract with this. Here's a more concrete example. When he was five years old, John was in kindergarten. He loved recess and playing with clay. He hated arithmetic. It stressed his mind. He's not getting it, the teacher's getting frustrated, and he's picking up the belief that addition is hard. This gets imprinted in there: math is hard. That's his new mental model that could potentially inform his experience with mathematics for the rest of his life. What happens? His relationship with mathematics is skewed to support his belief. Continue reading →
Confidence. What is it? What do we mean when we say we are confident?
To me, true confidence can only show up inside a certain frame of reference. It’s about how we relate to the events in our lives.
Most (not all) performance anxiety comes up due to an external frame of reference – a mental projection. We are often conditioned to seek validation from other people to assure us that we are doing well. When the possibility exists that a group of people will judge us badly, we retreat.
The potential exist here to shift from an external frame of reference to an internal one. The validation comes from a sense of curiosity – “how did I do? How can I improve? I was really pleased with this part of my performance, how can I do that again?” It doesn’t mess with, “what did they think?”
Dating is a good example of this form of confidence. Oddly, both women and men approach each other giving power to the other: “I hope he/she likes me.” Confidence asks, “do I like this person?” See the difference?
When the frame of reference shifts from external to internal, our experience of the world changes. It becomes an opportunity to experience, and an opportunity to connect. Fear doesn’t dominate in curiosity.
The shift from external to internal is a key to experiencing performance of any kind from a space of freedom.
This is one of my favorite talks out there right now:
I love it because in only 3 minutes, he describes how to make things happen in a giant way. It's a guide for those of us doing big things -- and it's an excellent piece of public speaking. He tells us a story while inspiring us to take action. His energy is contagious throughout, and he uses his visual in a masterful way. It's exciting to see a great talk like this.