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Practicing Presence

Tucker Miller | President and Founder of Day 6 Leadership, LLC

3 easy, actionable practices to help you present yourself with confidence.

Clients ask how they can improve their leadership presence. They are looking for ways to inspire confidence and engagement when they don’t know all the answers and doubt themselves.

"What can I do to look confident on the outside when I'm shaking in my boots on the inside?"

No house with a cracked foundation can be fixed with a fresh coat of paint to improve its curb appeal. Similarly, there is no degree, no credential, no outfit or other accessory that will create presence. Instead, confidence is a teachable skill -- and one that begins by looking within.

Presence requires more than "looking the part." Presence is an inside job.

To demonstrate presence, you first need to be present. When you are in the moment, it is much easier to hear what people are saying and respond appropriately. You allow yourself to be in the conversation instead of worrying about what you've said, what you will say, and what may go wrong.

Step 1: Breathe in, breathe out; repeat.

You may be thinking right now that you already do that or you wouldn't be alive and reading this. But hold a minute. One of the most common responses to anxiety or nervousness is holding your breath -- and you may not even know you're doing it.

So start, begin by checking in with yourself. Take a deep breath. Let it out and do it again. Yogis and mediation teachers offer all kinds of suggestions for ways to do breath work. Don't worry about that now. Do it the way that feels best for you in this moment. There is no right or best way, but in asking yourself what feels good in this moment you will arrive in the present.

Step 2: claim your motto.

Worrying about what other people might think or what might go wrong results in you stepping outside of yourself, perhaps even abandoning yourself, in favor of inhabiting someone else's brain or transporting to a different time.

That's why you need a practice and a plan to remind you to be in the moment. Mantra, motto, verse, slogan, tag line -- whatever reminds you to breathe and remember your worth, claim it. Write it in your journal, recite it to yourself. Remind yourself of it often. No one else needs to know it and it doesn't need to be fancy.

  • I've got this.

  • I'm scrappy and full of grit.

  • I can do hard things.

  • I am confident.

  • I am worthy.

  • I believe in my value.

As you recite and write your motto frequently, the practice will come naturally and your motto becomes easier to believe. Practicing also informs the next iteration of your motto: your mottos will evolve as you do and as circumstances require.

Step 3: Do your homework.

I had a meeting this week with someone I find challenging. I had a brief list of topics to cover and I was confident I knew my stuff. Beyond agenda, I also planned how I wanted to feel before, during and after the meeting. I decided ahead of time that I wanted to feel curious, patient, and generous. Focusing on how I wanted to feel helped me remain present and in service instead of questioning how I was coming across.

Kindness and generosity are the currency for presence, not others' opinions or behaviors.

Keep breathing.

Practice your motto.

And do the work.

View presence as a practice, one that helps you focus on the present moment. Leadership presence is best demonstrated when you no longer seek approval or recognition from others and can give generously and sincerely as you choose to present yourself .

Day 6 Leadership, LLC is a consulting and coaching company specializing in helping to prepare women leaders for expanded responsibility, influence, and impact.

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