Image Ability | Blog: What is your recipe for Presence? part 1
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Our work at Image Ability is anchored in behavioural science with a practical focus. So, as we understand and practice change intentionally, our core and stable theme is presence. With work dynamics changing both demographically and inter-generationally, we believe that organisations and individuals need to make sense of this topic of presence and what it means for them.

In a 2-part write-up, I will pave the way for this practical understanding.

Interpretations of presence

‘Presence” can be interpreted in a few different ways, depending on the context in which it is used – cultural, political, etc. We research and work with three interpretations of feminine presence at Image Ability; this is informed by our own experiences (‘breakthroughs’) and by those we have worked with.  

In the workplace: In a professional context, “feminine presence” refers to how women carry and project themselves. This includes body language, tone of voice, and communication style. There is ample evidence that women who exhibit a more “feminine” presence, such as nurturing, empathy, and collaboration, are more effective leaders and managers. Charisma tends to be the ‘cherry on the cake’!

In personal growth contexts: Others may call these ‘spiritual’ contexts. Feminine presence” refers to embodying feminine energy or qualities, such as receptivity, intuition, creativity, and nurturing. There is ample evidence that cultivating these qualities can help individuals connect more deeply with themselves and others and live more fulfilling and authentic lives. The post-pandemic ‘new normal’ has heightened the benefits of this interpretation beyond fast relief.

In social contexts: In social contexts, “feminine presence” refers to how women present themselves physically and socially. This includes social skills, etiquette, dress, and grooming. We associate a “feminine” presence with traits such as grace and poise. In certain cultures, charm is a must; in others, charm is implicit.

The concept of “feminine presence” can also be somewhat controversial, as it can reinforce gender stereotypes and be used to place limitations on women’s behaviour &/or roles. Some people also believe that the concept has become outdated or irrelevant, where gender roles and expectations are evolving. Some think the female leadership narrative is slipping an aggressive route or not militant. Whether someone values or cultivates a “feminine presence” is a matter of preference and belief.

You already know where you and your organisation stand as you read this.

So, what is presence to you?

Presence is that indefinable quality that gets a person noticed (seen, heard, felt, etc). It combines physique, posture, attitude, clothes, voice, and more. When someone has presence, they exude confidence, credibility, and authority, making them stand out.

So, how can you develop it to make a positive impact in the workplace?

Your presence is important in the workplace because it can affect how others perceive you and your abilities. People with presence are often viewed as leaders. They are more likely to be given opportunities to take on challenging assignments, advance in their careers, and earn the respect of their colleagues.

  • Physical Presence

Physical presence refers to how you look and carry yourself. It includes your physique, posture, and the clothes you wear. Dressing professionally, maintaining good posture, and staying physically fit can all help to enhance your physical presence.

  • Vocal Presence

Vocal presence refers to how you sound when you speak. It includes the tone of your voice, the pace at which you speak, and the words you choose. Speaking confidently and clearly can help to enhance your vocal presence.

  • Attitude

Attitude refers to your mindset and how you approach your work. A positive attitude and a willingness to take on challenges can help enhance your presence in the workplace.

  • Developing Presence

Developing presence takes time and effort, but it’s a worthwhile investment in your career. Some ways to develop your presence include practising good posture, dressing professionally, practising public speaking, and maintaining a positive attitude.

In a nutshell, presence is that indefinable quality that can help you stand out in the workplace. By working on your physical presence, vocal presence, and attitude, you can develop a strong presence that commands attention and respect from others.

In Part Two we’ll dive into stories and reflections, providing practical insights for nurturing an authentic and compelling presence.