Robert Downey Jr.s’ got it. So does Emma Stone. Orlando Bloom? Not so much. What is “it?” Presence. If you’re alive and taking up space, you have presence, too. It’s simply a matter of degree. Do you have enough presence to command the attention of one, two or twenty people? For how long? Ten seconds? Twenty minutes? Two hours? Presence is not just an important quality for actors. It is a critical component in sales where your success depends on engaging and motivating others. So can sales be developed?
It’s helpful to know what presence is. Here’s a definition:
- The state or fact of being present (don’t you love it when the dictionary defines a word with the root of the word itself?)
- An impressive quality, personal appearance or bearing
- An invisible spirit felt to be nearby
When the dictionary struggles to pin it down, you know it’s hard to define. It can perhaps best be described as an energy, an attitude and a bearing that makes other people want to connect with us. Since it is more than just a physical quality, simply mimicking the behaviors of others will lack the authenticity and impact of real presence if we don’t have our own inner spark.
An Actor’s Take on Presence
Early in my acting career I rather timidly took the stage and after a few uncomfortable moments, the director yelled, “Own the stage!” Unsure what he meant, I immediately started making big, dramatic gestures. I bounced around from one side of the stage to the other at random. I practically shouted my lines and over-emphasized every other word. As you can guess, this is not what he meant. It took me months to understand that he was challenging me to create a bigger presence from the inside out – not vice versa. Luckily it doesn’t have to take you that long.
Actors continuously work on developing and enhancing their presence in order to move an audience. Here are some things I learned to apply from my acting career that have proved to be powerfully effective in sales:
Unleash your Sales Presence with the Actor’s 3 C’s
An actor with presence exudes confidence. They know they’re good at their craft because they’ve spent weeks, months and years honing it. Actors take classes and workshops, study, rehearse and train with coaches. They are ready for their moment in the spotlight. Are you ready? How much time do you spend training your instrument to command attention when the spotlight is on you?
For more Actor’s tips on gaining confidence in sales, read here.
When is the last time you were really moved by an actor’s performance? I bet you can think of at least one recent example. Now, when was the last time you were really moved by a business presentation or a sales pitch? Not so easy, is it? Great actors make an emotional connection with their audience, drawing them in and inviting them to come along on their journey. Great salespeople do the same thing. Instead of talking at us, relying on the information to make the connection, they establish an emotional connection with their customers, clients or prospects. And because of this, they are able to inspire them to think about something in a new way or motivate them to change their behavior.
Actors with real presence know precisely what they want and are completely committed to its attainment. When an actor is not truly invested in the outcome of his goal, the audience certainly isn’t either. The same is true of our customers or prospects. Yet often sales professionals have vague intentions vague or unclear goals. Keeping focused and committed to our objectives like impacting a prospect’s thoughts, attitude or behavior, can make for a much more compelling presence.