I’ve discovered that as much as content and results are king, presence matters. First impressions can be paramount. Don’t despair if you “missed your opportunity” as you can recover; however, it’s best to start with your best foot forward.

As I’ve always been FAR more concerned about results vs. format/ presentation, I could tell you many stories of my mistakes and how I overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles – all stemming from a poor first impression. On the other hand, I can also tell you stories of where I never overcame first impressions with some folks with negative consequences. Thank goodness, I can also tell stories of starting with a good first impression. I guarantee, it is the BEST way to go.

This popped to mind as I’ve recently been collaborating with a few other consultants to implement rapid improvement at a client. Since I know the people better (since I’ve worked with them longer), it was interesting to hear the assessments largely from presence and how people interacted in meetings. Whether we like it or not, how we look, talk, hold ourselves and interact with others provides a statement about us. For example, one person carried himself with authority and it was obvious he commanded respect of people in the room. Another person of the same level communicated in a weaker style – whether he was brighter, achieved better results or a wizard, the perception was that he was at a lower level in the organization.

To some degree, it is easy to resolve – ask those around you. Ask those who will tell you the truth. Ask those at the position you want to impress. What pops to mind when they see you? Then take actions to evolve and align your presence with what you’d like it to be. Consider your appearance, clothes, style, non-verbal clues, communications, listening etc. Even items such as how you sit in the chair convey a presence. To some degree, it reminds me of golf. Do this, do that, bend here, do the splits there……then the instructor asks, “Why aren’t you relaxing your swing?” Perhaps that’s why it is harder than it seems.

How is your presence?