Have you noticed how some people just command presence? Do you ever wish you could have a “do over” after leaving a presentation or meeting?  Often, my clients desire to feel more powerful and confident when they present and interact, especially with groups where senior leaders are present. I often provide tips during coaching sessions and I teach a 1.5 day practical presentation training course because let’s face it–we are constantly scrutinized and people form opinions of us in a matter of seconds.

My dogs Wonton and ChowMein also know how important it is to be able to demonstrate a strong presence through eye contact, body language and er, voice.  In this blog and video, we will share powerful tips and tricks that will help you tap into your super powers and increase your leadership presence and confidence the WonChow Way.

You may be asking, “What exactly is leadership presence?”  We just sort of know when someone has it and when they don’t.  Presence is about how confident we are, how authentic we feel and how we are perceived by others.  The following are tips to help you increase your leadership presence and confidence with ease.


  • Power up and focus you brain:  In my recent blog, I spoke about the importance of better understanding yourself and how various assessments such as the Hogan™,  MBTI®, or DiSC® can help. Knowing thyself is crucial to being able to relax into your own authentic way of being and is a first step to building confidence.  Being aware of your strengths, abilities, beliefs, and values can help you feel more authentic and better able to tap into your own presence.  Often women are more challenged than men are to think about their strengths and focusing on situations where they have been confident and powerful.  Take a few deep breaths and focus on an experience when you were your most confident and successful.  What did you look like?  What does it feel like?  What were the results?  What is your body language saying when you know you just knocked it out of the ballpark?  Research shows that the tapping into emotional memory and our truest self can actually prime our brains to feel more confident.


  • Use powerful body language to increase your presence:  Did you know that our words only make up about 40% of what we are saying? Often we spend all our time focusing on the words we are going to say in our presentations, speeches, meetings or dates. What about the rest of what we are saying through our body language? Here are tips to focus on building confidence through body language:
    • Become Superman or Wonder Woman:  Amy Cuddy and researchers at Harvard Business School found that the more expansive we are as both humans and animals, the more dominance we have.  For a great resource, check out her book, Presence, Bringing your Boldest Self to your Biggest Challenges. Did you know that the way we stand can impact our brains and hormones? Often we are slumped over a cell phone right before we enter into a critical meeting
      or presentation.  An important way to display confidence is to change your physical posture by standing straight, holding your head up and pulling your shoulders back.  Actually hold a “Superman” or “Wonder Woman” pose for two minutes to elevate your testosterone (the power hormone) level before you enter your presentation or meeting space.
    • Watch the Hands:  It is important to keep your hands up during a
      meeting or presentation.  This helps to convey that you are trustworthy to others. Gesturing when we talk can actually power up our speaking.  Practice this and you’ll find that the physical act of gesturing helps you form clearer thoughts and speak in succinct sentences with more declarative language. steeplingA specific way to demonstrate confidence through your hands is to “steeple” them. Body language expert and former FBI Agent Joe Navarro states, “Steepling communicates that we are one with our thoughts; we are not wavering; we are not vacillating.  We are communicating universally that we are confident in our thoughts and beliefs, sure in our affirmation, trusting of ourselves.”  Be careful not to overuse this gesture, and make sure you don’t cover your mouth or face when using it.
    • Gaze into my eyes:  Warm up your style and presentation by facing others directly and gazing into people’s eyes directly as you are both speaking.  This demonstrates confidence, warmth and presence!  When you are looking into someone else’s eyes, they feel important and listened to.  It helps you make a deeper connection with them.  According to Amy Cuddy, connection and trust are more important to ensuring presence rather than competence!


  • To sound authoritative, keep your voice down. Before a presentation, meeting or important telephone call, allow your voice to relax into its optimal pitch by keeping your lips together and making the sounds: “Um hum, um hum, um hum.”  It is important to watch that your voice doesn’t rise at the ends of sentences as if you are asking a question or seeking approval.  Instead, when stating your opinion, use the authoritative arc, in which your voice starts on one note, rises in pitch through the sentence and drops back down at the end.


  • To ensure good feelings, genuinely smile. A genuine smile not only stimulates your own sense of well-being.  It also tells those around you that you are approachable, cooperative, and trustworthy.  A genuine smile comes on slowly, crinkles the eyes, lights up the face, and fades away slowly.  Most importantly, smiling directly influences how other people respond to you.  When you smile at someone, they almost always smile in return.  And, because facial expressions trigger feelings, the smile you get back actually changes that person’s emotional state in a positive way.  You may want to look at your profile pictures on social media.  Do you have a full, genuine smile, or is it more of a smirk?  A smirk subconsciously triggers others to think of us as smug, untrustworthy, and even arrogant.


  • To show agreement, mirror expressions and postures.
    When clients or business colleagues unconsciously imitate your body language, it’s their way of nonverbally saying that they like or agree with you. When you mirror other people with intent, it can be an important part of building rapport and nurturing feelings of mutuality.  Mirroring starts by observing a person’s facial and body gestures and then subtly letting your body take on similar expressions and postures.  Doing so will make the other person feel understood and accepted.


We hope these tips and ideas will help you embrace your most confident self and demonstrate a  powerful presence that influences others in a positive way!  Please let me know if you need additional support in increasing your leadership presence or presentation skills.