Are you one of those people who when they walk into a room, people turn to look and stay looking? Do you hold conversations at parties and more people drift into your circle than anyone else? Does that waiter hand you a free coffee after a 5 minute conversation? When you speak at a business meeting do people sit up and take notice? That’s fantastic don’t read any further, you already have presence and quite some degree of a persona. If these things don’t happen then you need to work on them, especially if you are the founder of a Start-Up.
It is an often stated maximum that you have 7 seconds to make a first impression, it is actually much shorter. A pair of Princeton psychologists have proved that it actually 1/10 of second, that is an exceptionally short time. You have to make that 1st impression count, therefore how to you influence that 1st impression.
You do this by developing your Presence & Persona, these are factors that you can develop and build, so don’t worry if you are not like our examples in the first paragraph.
Persona can be defined as the character that you face the outside world with. Think about yourself as an actor and your persona is a character of YOU, that you (the actor) is playing in the movie of your life. If you are that character, how would you write that Character to be played. You would exaggerate your good characteristics; you would have factors that are instantly recognisable to your audience such as a style of dress or hair, a way of speaking or phrases or even a set of habits.
Think about it this way, How would you describe to someone who had never heard or seen Steve Jobs? Richard Branson? Mark Cuban? Donald Trump? They all have distinctive elements of dress, style and ways of speaking.
One more thing to remember you have to live with this for a long time, as with all brands, you have to develop a consistency of the message, therefore make sure you are happy to stick with those elements.
Another misconception is that Presence is something you are just born with, that is not the case. You may be naturally more gifted in this area but it is a skill that can be taught and developed. Think once again of actors in a role, they appear on stage and can either dominate the auditorium or fade into the background to let others shine. Presence is about confidence and confidence can be developed. The Harvard professor Amy Cuddy even talks about “Power Posing”, where just by standing in certain postures you can change your confidence levels, even when you don’t feel like it.
So why are these so important? These two Ps are heavy influencers in business success from climbing the corporate ladder but most profoundly in Entrepreneurs & Start-Up Founders. Why? Because one of the things that everyone has to do in a Start-Up is sell. Sell their product or service to customers; sell their company to the Investors and Media and most importantly Sell themselves to everyone from the customer to the employees.
If you met me now, you would never tell that I was a depressed, scared, weedy person once upon a time. So go forth and stand out from the crowd and long after the parties have finished, the conversations are over and the meetings are left…be remembered!
Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov ! https://psych.princeton.edu/psychology/research/todorov/pdf/Willis&Todorov-PsychScience.pdf