Develop Your Presence

Build Your Personal Presence – it’s a vital skill

As trainers we are constantly striving to improve our presence - our ability to lead and engage with a room full of trainees, our ability to speak both to the whole room and to each individual, our ability to make a lasting positive impact.  But, if we are hindered by our invisibility cloak – the lack of real, strong and useful presence in front of the group, how is any of this ever possible?

Presence and good training outcomes often go hand in hand; it is hard to deliver effective training if you are unable to hold the attention of the trainees.  Many teachers and trainers express consternation at the idea of performing, insisting that they are not there to entertain.  Well, in most cases you have an audience and so by default you are a performer and would do well to learn from the techniques employed by such professions.

Teachers and trainers of all experience levels can benefit from attending a class with Opposite Leg but here are a few simple starter ideas:

 Pause for thought

Take time, your time to organise your thoughts in the classroom.  Meter your energy and come across as calm and collected.  Think of yourself as a storyteller and that you have a secret to tell through your teaching.

Open up

Be aware of your posture.  You don’t have to be physically large to appear strong and commanding in the classroom.  Relax your knees, open up your chest and speak clearly from your belly.


Consciously slow your breathing down.  Take slow deep breaths and use this to remain calm in the most stressful situation – even conflict.


All leaders have delegates.  Allow the trainees to take ownership of some of the delivery of the material under your guidance.  This is an effective way of building strong supportive relationships with the class.

Wear their shoes

Are they bored?  It goes without saying but never let the class become bored.  Shake them up by delivering in a teaching style that pulls you out of your comfort zone and wakes them up.

Stand still

Stillness is a vital performance skill. Of course we need to be animated, but vague, unfocused over animation can be damaging to your presence. Stillness coupled with clarity of gesture is essential. If you consider yourself the controller of an energy tap with your hand firmly on the valve - letting all the energy and movement out in one go is an explosion and very hard for an audience to read; constantly fidgeting and moving is a dripping tap at once hypnotic and draining.

You must control the tap - being still is not lifeless, it is a gathering of energy and a drawing together of attention, once you have collected the focus, like a deep pool, you can then begin to use it and paint your patterns with it.

Presence is not something you can achieve overnight and these steps above may not seem directly related at first.  Try them.  It can’t hurt, and besides all of them are designed to make your life easier!

This excellent TED talk by Amy Cuddy describes how you can use your posture to enhance your presence and emotional state

David Windle