The Importance of Stage Presence in Everyday Life
When you think of “stage presence,” an actor in a leading role or a soloist comes to mind. But, stage presence is a skill that can be used in everyday life. Someone with stage presence is able to command the attention of her peers, take control of a difficult situation, or be able to powerfully persuade.
KD Conservatory defines it this way: “Stage presence refers to the certain charisma and charm that a theater actor or performer possesses that draws in an audience and commands their full attention.”
But being able to command attention has benefits in everyday life too. For instance, an Emergency Room doctor is not performing on stage, but when victims from a multi-car pileup are wheeled into the hospital, lives depend on her ability to take command of the situation, issue directions, and dispense essential treatment. Similarly, a skilled sales representative will be able to convince a reluctant buyer to purchase his products through his words and physical presence.
There are several “real life” situations that all of us find ourselves in at one time or another where a cultivated stage presence can enhance our effectiveness. Consider:
Telling a Joke - There are some people who get big chuckles whenever they tell a joke and others who can’t get a smile. In both cases, the words of the joke is the same. The difference lies in the jokester’s ability to convey the information through timing, inflection, and body language. In other words, the difference between a good joke and a lame one lies in the stage presence of the one telling it.
Job Interviews - On a more serious note, if you take two people with equal skills interviewing for a job, which person will secure the position? Often, it is the person who comes across as more likeable to the interviewer. The successful candidate will convey employability through the words they choose, their gestures, and their enthusiasm. Stage presence at this critical time can mean the difference between having a job and being on unemployment.
Dating - There’s a popular stereotype of a guy who is the “best friend” of all the girls but watches the “bad boys” date all of his female friends. The difference between being a girl’s “best friend” and being her boyfriend, may all come down to stage presence. Being able to charm a woman lies in the confidence and communication skills a man possesses. Being able to woo a potential love interest lies in large part the confidence and communication skills you possess.
Friendship - Have you ever met someone and immediately said to yourself “I want to be her friend!” You may not know it, but she has developed stage presence and it draws you to her. When you acquire stage presence, you will be a magnet for other people and have a wider circle of friends.
So, How Do You Develop Stage Presence?
We’ve established that stage presence can help you in many aspects of your life. Short of running away to Hollywood, how do you develop stage presence? These tips will help you cultivate your best, most confident self.
1. INSPIRE: Look for stage presence in your everyday life! Identify who has stage presence around you and what characteristics make up the stage presence? What characteristics could you also tap into?
2. PRACTICE: Take a deep breath and keep it simple - personally I like to focus on the story instead of myself (whether it's a song, a joke or a job interview) which naturally relieves a lot of pressure! Then practice the delivery in a few different ways until you find what comes naturally for you!
Be honest with yourself and remember, no one does 'you' better than YOU so keep it real!
3. RECORD: Ah yes, I know a lot of you will cringe at the thought but hear me out - it's unbelievably helpful for self-awareness, and it will add the pressure of an audience.
4. REFLECT: This is probably harder than step 3, but it gets easier! Watch the recording of yourself and reflect on what worked and what didn't work. But don't beat yourself up about it... be kind!
5. HAVE FUN! That's the aim after all! Take time to notice when you draw people in, give yourself a pat on the back when you see someone consumed by your presence, and feel free to do a happy dance when you know you just nailed it!
You can develop your stage presence by taking the opportunity to communicate -- whether it is to one person or to a group -- and then reflecting on what worked. Each communication opportunity is a chance to better your stage presence the next time.