We all know we need that mysterious quality 'presence' when we’re in front of an audience.  It’s something about charisma, and being there, in the moment, for the audience, focused, and completely ‘on’.  

But what gets in the way of presence?  

Most people would say that it’s nerves.  You’ve got so much to think about – worrying about things going wrong, hoping that things go right – the basics of stage fright.  

But the adrenaline behind stage fright can actually help you be more present, because you’re thinking faster, and your senses are on max.  You’re more alert.

So the real issues to watch out for have more to do with that nasty habit the brain has of playing over things that are in past and worrying about things that are in the future.  

The philosophers tell us that the past is gone, the future only a dream, and we only have the present moment.  So why can’t we all focus on that, becoming completely present, all the time?  

Because presence is something we un-learn, as children.  We go to school, and we learn to do unnatural things like sit still.  We start thinking about stuff in the past and in the future.   We stop paying attention to the moment.

We lose our presence.  

To get it back, you have to let go of your regrets and memories.  And you have to stop fantasizing about the future.  You have to look at each moment as if you’re a child, and the moment is incredible because you’ve never seen it before!

Once you’re in the moment in that intense way, you’ll have all the presence you need.   

Look at your audience.  Look into their eyes.  You know your presentation.  Just give it to them.  Right now.  



  1. Amen, indeed. As the Buddhists suggest, simply be enormously appreciative of everything in your immediate vicinity, grateful for the contributions of people you know and don’t know for all that you are surrounded by right this second, from the chair you’re sitting on to the pastry you’re eating and the electricity powering your laptop. It really brings you into the moment, a fresh view of what we usually take for granted. And it brings you into the now–now.

  2. Hi, Susan —
    I love the emphasis on appreciation and gratitude. It’s a great thing to focus on — at the very least, it takes your mind off your nervous symptoms.

  3. Hi, Geetesh —
    Thanks for your comment, and so true. Humans crave connection with the whole; it’s how we’re wired. We’re a social species. So when we feel self-conscious or we disappear into our heads, we’re disconnected from that whole and lack presence indeed.

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