Football players (and other high-level athletes) are often told to visualize. Visualize making the perfect catch. Visualize running into the end zone. Visualize — really step into it and feel — what it will be like when you throw the game-winning pass.
Actors are also told to visualize: to imagine how they will walk into an audition room, how they will take the stage on their first entrance, even how they will receive their Tony or Oscar. (I mean, who hasn't done that?)
I know I've certainly used this method of mental pre-work. Thinking back on it, I realized something interesting. What I was visualizing and trying to perfect was my professional presence. Of course, I was thinking about my actual performance (I'm sure Tom Brady thinks about his performance, as well...) but I was trying to get to the heart of how my professionalism could help me stand out.
No doubt in business you've been asked to visualize. Chances are, you may be visualizing the same thing that I do: an exceptional professional presence. It's no secret that professionalism while working with a client is critical, particularly when that client is investing a LOT of money in your organization!
Are members of your team meeting (or surpassing!) the expectations of today’s business landscape? Read on for 5 tips for creating an effective and pronounced professional presence — without going overboard.
1. Practice listening: It's very simple: leaders listen. A large part of your professional presence revolves around truly listening to those with whom you are speaking. Listening shows respect and empathy, and inspires the same in return. With a current business climate full of endless distractions, technological and otherwise, this might seem like a rarity. Instead of thinking of your next "line" or doing your best to end a conversation quickly, take a step back and just listen.
2. Discover what you say when you're silent: The past few years have seen the "negative resting face" phenomenon explode. People often don't realize what's being communicated by their face and body without saying a word! Whether or not it's intentional, that negative physicality detracts from your presence. Investigate yourself. Look in a mirror, notice what position your body takes at various points in the day, and ask, "What might this physicality convey to my colleagues?"
3. Keep clothing clean, well-maintained, and appropriate: Sure, our parents have been saying this to us since we were children. However, it's always good to have a reminder. The culture of dress can vary widely from industry to industry, but these three things are requirements at ANY company. As we say in the theatre, "costumes make the character." Think of your wardrobe as an integral part of your presence.
4. Recognize that manners matter: "Please" and "thank you" are words that are extremely difficult to overuse. They cost you nothing, and are worth everything.
5. Make the positive choice: In all of your interpersonal communication, you have a choice. Even in the most difficult of situations, you can chose to communicate with respect and understanding, or not. As a professional, (not to mention just as an everyday human...) your words and actions matter. Exceptional professionals take the well-being of others into account, rather than operating based solely on their own needs.
Visualize the perfect presence all you want. Then give these 5 simple steps a try, and bring all of that imagination into reality.
How do you feel about your professional presence? If you try some of these ideas, let us know how it goes in the comments!
Want to keep working on professionalism and leadership skills? Give this a try: