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Presence

In the specific context of communication and persuasion, this wiki defines presence as your personal intensity and force. Someone that has presence, or gravitas, is someone who is a force, who is felt by others, who is taken seriously.

Underlying Psychology/Biases

Presence persuades because people cannot ignore presence. Someone who is more intense communicates higher value and is harder to ignore. It also creates immediate reactions in social terms (it places other people in “low-value” mode or trying to please).

Sub-Techniques

There are nine key pillars to presence:

  • Charisma and salience
    • Standing out from others. Having a very specific vision of the world, a story, your own view, and influencing others with it;
  • Appearance and authority
    • Having a selecte and curated image. Looking professional, looking high-value, looking like the type of person that is associated with wealth, high-quality things and more;
  • Intensity and tension
    • Being serious, a force of nature when you walk into a room;
    • Includes elements such as maintaining eye contact, having a stern tonality, using silence, and almost being intimidating in how you speak and act;
  • Minimalism and selectiveness
    • Higher-value people have less time and availability. So they choose their words and actions carefully;
    • This is about using less words and taking less action, but carefully selecting the ones you do;
  • Rigidity
    • The equivalent of personal rigidity in Priming in terms of persuasion;
    • Being very specific and rigid in terms of your demands and your standards;
    • In short, not accepting anything from anyone. Being very specific in what you demand from yourself and others;
  • Agency
    • Taking more action. When others are doubting or hesitating, being the one to make extra work, to do more;
    • Being the one to speak when a conversation has died, to search for something when people don’t have it, to  speak with someone when it’s necessary, and so on;
  • Synchrony
    • Using Amy Cuddy’s definition, being congruent. Having all parts of yourself act as one;
    • Being comfortable, being transparent, feeling at easy, rested, powerful body language;
  • Grace under pressure
    • Not reacting emotionally when someone tries to attack you, or when things affect you. Communicates high value as you’re not the type of person easily affected by things. “Keeping your cool”;
  • Vulnerability
    • Not being afraid to show emotion, to talk about personal things, to talk about flaws, and more. Being open and not defensive;

Examples

  • CEO meetings
    • Anytime a CEO of a company meets with someone in the company, they will probably be intimidated;
  • Frame battles
    • When two people believe they have the highest value, a frame battle will ensue. Each one will try to get the other one to react or prove themselves. And only one person wins;
  • Figures of authority
    • People such as policemen, military leaders and others leverage presence. For example, detectives will try to act tough in interviews to “break” a suspect. Interviewers will try to act like a “prosecutor” to intimidate and “break” a candidate;

Commercial/Known Uses

  • Amy Cuddy‘s concept of “synchrony”. Being congruent, having all parts of yourself act together as a whole;

Key Takeaways

  • There are a whopping nine pillars to presence, but all of them do the same – they make you more of a force, someone felt, intense, being taken seriously;
  • Contrary to many techniques that work in the long-term or passively, this is an in-the-room technique. When you have presence, it’s manifested here and now, and the other person will feel it;
  • Most people have a programmed reaction to presence, which is to submit. While there are exceptions – usually, people with presence themselves – most people will become more influenceable;
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