The Essence of Presence


When we say someone has a strong “presence,” what does that actually mean? I mean, specifically, what does it mean? Ask 100 different people (and we have), you might get 50 different answers. A strong presence means different things to different people. And when you push people to define what it actually is, you tend to get stuck in high level, intangible things like “confidence.” And then when you offer to let someone off the hook from their attempted description and simply suggest “we know it when we see it,” they smile and agree enthusiastically.

We do know it when we see it, right? But what is it… specifically?

It CAN mean different things. And people all different shapes, styles, ages and attitudes can have “it.” We’ve seen a strong presence from both tall and short people, slender and heavy set, young and old, male and female, executive and not… presence can come from lots of different types of people.

At The Latimer Group, we describe presence as the sum total of lots of seemingly small things. All aspects, while each seemingly insignificant, eventually add up to something noticeable. Things like the way we stand (up straight? facing the room?), the way we look people in the eye, our rate of speech, the polish in our words, the way we dress, the way we collaborate, the way we treat others, the questions we ask, the things we show an interest in, the things we speak about… we could go on and on. Each of these things contributes towards our presence.

When we stand (or sit) up straight and face the people we are speaking to; when we look people in the eye; when we dress for the job we want, not necessarily the job we have; when we speak with enough polish that we sound intelligent and well-informed; when we pause occasionally and don’t seem to be in a huge rush and frantic all the time; when we ask questions and listen to people’s answers; when we speak about “executive issues” and don’t get stuck in the muck; when we demonstrate confidence in what we are saying, yet somehow can still be open minded… when we can do all of these things, people tend to notice. They tend to remember who we are and what we have said.

We’ll be diving into this concept a bit more in the coming weeks, but we wanted to start this work week off with some initial thoughts on the essence of presence. Think about it. What makes you notice people? What makes you remember their names and what they said? What creates a presence that impresses you?

And as you are thinking about the presence of others, spend some time thinking about your presence. Is it what you really want or need it to be?

Have a great day.

Photo by Elena used under the following license.

At The Latimer Group, our individual Coaching services are highly customized and designed to help you achieve your specific goals. Typical engagements focus on developing skill sets in Leadership Communications, Public Speaking, and Executive-Level Business Presentations. To learn more, e-mail us at


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Dean Brenner

A book about change

The Latimer Group’s CEO Dean Brenner is a noted keynote speaker and author on the subject of persuasive communication. He has written three books, including Persuaded, in which he details how communication can transform organizations into highly effective, creative, transparent environments that succeed at every level.