The Power of Presence – What Does it Mean and How Can You Use It?

lego stormtrooper next to easel

Body language is an essential tool in connecting with people, building an engaged audience and it is the key element in influencing – whether that is to just one person, or a large audience. There is one thing in common with people who leave a lasting impression – they have the power of presence, and are aware of the impact their behaviour has on others.

We meet smart leaders all of the time, but still a lot of these leaders fail to influence key stakeholders. So what is going wrong? Well, what they say is rarely the issue – but how they deliver their message, and their body language when doing so, fails to deliver impact, or influence their audience.

“Your actions are so loud, I can’t hear what you’re saying” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

We are often so unaware of the body language we bring to the table that we fail to utilise its true power. Body language can be everything from your facial expressions to reinforcing messages with your actions, to body language that builds rapport, to simply being aware of any blockers that may prevent your message from landing.

As part of the behavioural work we do at Duo, we provide leaders with an insight into their dominant behaviours and how this may be impacting the presence they have and the default behaviours they bring to the table.

So What Is The Power Of Presence? 

The Power of Presence is when you really own a room, and positively and purposefully influence your audience both linguistically and through your body language. We have detailed below some key elements that you can utilise to elevate your influence and presence.

Be Conscious Of Your Facial Expressions

We are often unaware of our facial expressions in everyday situations, but this is one of the most important factors in delivering a dynamic presentation, keeping people interested and maintaining their attention. People often subconsciously purse their lips or narrow their eyes when they are listening, however this can come across as being disinterested in what the other person is saying, or even disagreeing. Sometimes, if you do disagree with someone, your body language can quickly react and shift, and negative body language can kick in – be aware of the moments of contention when you may need to pay closer attention to your body language.


Another technique, called “tagging”, is an effective way of reinforcing your message whether you are influencing just one person, or a group. This can be done linguistically through the uses of phrases such as “does that make sense?”, or simply “yes?” to confirm key messages, but can also be done effectively via body language. Nodding, and getting your audience to nod along with you, subconsciously embeds your message, increasing the chances of a positive reaction.

Equal Equal

When pitching, or presenting, or even just influencing, sometimes people alter the way they see themselves based on their audience and then in turn, often unknowingly, can alter the way the audience sees them. In any pitch or presentation environment, it is important to put yourself on an equal level with your audience. People sometimes shrink if they feel other people are more important than them, which can be perceived as asking for permission to speak, or a lack of confidence. On the other end of the scale, some people prepare themselves for battle by making themselves bigger and more imposing. Level yourself with your audience, smile and and maintain eye contact wherever possible to form the  best connection.

In our experience people can get caught up in the content they are presenting ahead of a big pitch or presentation, and once in the room focus on pre-empting the questions they might be asked, but often they forget what their body language, and facial expressions, may be saying to their audience. For more insight into how to create higher levels of impact in all types of leadership situations, including taking ownership overview your own power of presence, you might be interested in one of our leadership programmes.

If you are interested in quick insight into your dominant behavioural patterns, and how this could be impacting your presence both with internal and external stakeholders, enquire about taking our behavioural map.