Can Stage Presence be Learned?
What is stage presence? Can it be learned?
There are, undoubtedly, some 'naturals' in this field. The fine Welsh actor Richard Burton, for example, on his debut performance at 16, playing an extra scrubbing steps, was said to distract the audience from the Shakespearean play! Many actors commented on Burton's extraordinary stage presence, in particular his stillness - the audience were drawn to him even when he was apparently doing nothing.
And herein lies a lesson. We never do 'nothing'. Every moment of our lives is filled with interactions. Even lying asleep in bed, you adopt a position which reveals something about your inner state. Every moment, we transmit information about our motivations, concerns and anxieties.
So how do naturals like Richard Burton achieve such presence? How can we be drawn to a man saying nothing, not even moving? There are many ways of not moving. You may be exhaustedly still, not moving because your energy is gone. Or, at the other extreme, you may be poised, ready to spring. We can sense these differences because they matter. They matter for our survival. If you can't tell when a predator is ready to pounce (and humans are the number one predator), then you're likely to be food quite soon.
There are other forms of stillness. Meditative stillness, for example, is characterised by a calm mind, reflected in a relaxed body. Regular meditators can achieve remarkable presence, simply by virtue of the exceptional stillness which they achieve. We can't help but be drawn to such people - their demeanour is both unusual and calming.
So back to our question : can we learn stage presence? The answer, quite simply, is 'yes'. Actors do it every day. So do businesspeople - indeed, anybody who has to give presentations or talks as part of their regular routine. Some people acquire increased stage presence naturally, others work at it, and an unfortunate few have disastrous public appearances which undermine their confidence, leaving them with less presence than before.
It should be clear from what I have written that stage presence resides in the unconscious mind. It is intimately bound up with status, with the signals which we transmit and with the integration of mind and body. When we gain experience on stage, or in business presentations, we are slowly reprogramming our inner minds, gradually developing different status signals. It is these altered signs of our mental state which the audience picks up on, and which we interpret as 'stage presence'.
So there are two ways in which you can enhance your stage presence. The first is with practice - lots of practice, preferably with time for constructive reflection afterwards. The second way is to access your unconscious mind and begin to change some of your status signals from the inside. This process is achieved through hypnosis, and it can have remarkable effects.
For further information concerning stage presence, please visit the Confidence Club website.
Jim Sullivan is a hypnotherapist specialising in confidence development. He may be contacted via the Confidence Club website : confidenceclub.net
Further information regarding stage presence may be obtained from: confidenceclub.net/content/stagepresence.php
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