What is it about some people that makes everyone take notice when they walk into a room? The chances are that they radiate an aura of presence.
Presence is the ability to gain respectful attention and is the first step of making a great first impression. If you have ever felt that you are hiding your true self from the world, or have wondered: “how do I get people to notice me?” then having presence is the answer to your frustrations.
In this video, you’ll learn how to make a strong personal impact on people and get all their eyes on you, so that you can command the attention of any room. The magical type of stage presence that skilled actors use to captivate an audience can just as readily be used to create magic off-stage too!
On a recent trip to Mexico, I had the good fortune to meet a fellow expert in the field of charisma – social dynamics and high-impact communication skills coach Jonny Dupré.
Jonny is a charisma coach based in San Diego and an absolute fountain of knowledge when it comes to learning how to be charismatic. He and I immediately hit it off (after all, putting two charisma coaches together in the same room is like mixing cigarettes with C-4)! As we talked, we realised that we had a lot of original ideas to share about developing charisma and transforming your social skills.
I took the opportunity to quiz Jonny about one area close to his heart: the ability to create massive presence when you walk into a room.
Below is a transcript of a short interview we filmed on the topic of creating presence and being the centre of attention:
Marcus: Welcome to the next episode of Your Charisma Coach. It’s finally here! Now it gives me great pleasure today to be interviewing an expert on presence, Jonny Dupré .
Jonny: Pleasure, Marcus.
Marcus: Pleasure is all mine. I had the absolute opportunity or pleasure to meet Jonny on a recent trip to Mexico. He has agreed to talk a little bit about what he does and what gives him the absolute, most massive presence I’ve ever seen of anybody. He walks into a room and people light up. Where to begin with this guy? I mean his voice projects everywhere. We don’t even need a microphone for this interview! His voice just booms out!
We went out to various clubs, to various parties. All eyes on this guy all the time. He has presence by the bucket load. Now I’ve been lucky to meet lots of people who are very successful in their respective fields of social communication. Jonny has the most presence of anyone I’ve ever met. So I thought picking his brains would be too good an opportunity to miss. Let’s find out what makes him amazing.
Jonny: Thanks, Marcus.
Marcus: Yes. Pleasure to meet you, Jonny. So what is presence?
Jonny: What is presence? For me literally is the ability to be so present in a situation. Not everybody else is present with you.
Marcus: Okay. So like present in your own self?
Jonny: Yes, and on the same point in time, it’s presenting of yourself as a present individual within whatever situation that you’re in.
Marcus: Okay. Is that something you’ve always had or is that a skill you had to develop and learn?
Jonny: Absolutely something I had to build. Absolutely something I had to build. As a kid, I went to a private school and so I didn’t really have a whole lot of opportunities to build social skills at a young age. I just really spent most of my time focusing on building intelligence.
Jonny: So when I had the opportunity to go into elementary school, a public school, all of a sudden, you know, you start meeting new people, new different groups, cliques. Popularity becomes more important. Social situations change and shift pretty quickly. So, I sort of ran smack face first into the ‘Mack Truck’ of needing presence.
Marcus: A lot of people, I’ve found when I’ve worked with them, have been in the situation (and I definitely have too) where you’re in a bar maybe and you’re talking to like a couple of your friends and they’ll be like in the conversation [back and forth]: ‘chat-chat-chat-chat…’
Marcus: And you’re always playing sort of tennis. You’re at Wimbledon looking for the ball and you can’t get into the conversation and that’s – I mean that’s the perfect moment when having presence really helps. Is that something that you’ve had to deal with? And is there a technique we can use to smash into those social situations?
Jonny: Absolutely, absolutely. Of course. In most social situations, you’re going to be dealing with a lot of different factors especially a place like a nightclub or out in the – you know, Starbucks or something like that where there are people constantly being around us, the sounds in the room of the coffee being made and people yelling and some people talking on their phones and all the rest of that. For me, the biggest and most important thing that I have to learn to develop quickly was your voice. You absolutely have to present yourself through vocal tone the same way people perceive you.
Marcus: So your voice fills a room. You know, I think I talk loud but it’s like I think my voice sounds like a fly in the wind compared to you. So what do you do… or is there anything we can do to get that booming sound?
Jonny: Absolutely. There’s a lot you can do for specifically vocal tone and inflection. Number one, try speaking in a place that has a lot of sound around and just continuing to elevate your volume, literally just volume and you need to elevate it while not appearing to try harder.
Marcus: Right. What would a try-hard do?
Jonny: [Shouts and leans forward] Hey, Marcus! Come over here, man! It’s try-hard. You’re like screaming almost.
Marcus: Okay, Okay.
Jonny: As opposed to still projecting with volume even at this level while looking almost completely relaxed.
Marcus: So a bit more laid back?
Jonny: Yes, absolutely.
Marcus: So at breakfast this morning when I went, “Hey Jonny, how are you doing?” and you just walked past and blanked me. That was why huh?
Jonny: Absolutely…. not!
Marcus: So is there any way you can test your projection in that way? I mean is there – do you have any little ideas, say go to a coffee shop maybe and try to get somebody’s attention from the back of the room. Would that work?
Jonny: Absolutely! And of course there’s the social situations we were talking about before. If you’re out in the nightclub, try increasing your distance from the group [you talk to]. So if the group has got three or four people in it, you’ll notice this sort of natural circle they’re creating or natural area they take up. I will take two steps back and see if I can still get them to perfectly and clearly hear me.
Marcus: That’s a good little experiment to try.
Marcus: Yes. Okay fun times! All right. So how long does it take you to get proficient in presence? And what I mean by that is, you know, I think we all go through a learning curve to get a skill; and spend a few more months, maybe even years, refining that skill. But that initial curve [to improve presence], how long was that for you?
Jonny: That initial curve for me? Well, you know, it’s really interesting. I’ll take two seconds to talk about this right now.
Jonny: The difference between having someone there with you as a sort of sounding board [to practice with], takes this curve and [increases the speed you’ll accelerate through it] by a monumental amount. So having your charisma coach being there with you gives you the opportunity to not only have the sounding board of the people that happen to be there (the bystanders in these situations) but also have somebody to practice with who knows and understands your intention so that they can actually help you.
[A coach is like] your sounding board who understands your intention for what you’re doing and can help increase this monumentally. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t have somebody like that there to watch [what mistakes I was making]. So it was literally just ‘guess-and-check’ in approach. My process for improving my presence probably took much longer than it should have done.
Marcus: So you had like a methodical approach in the end for boosting your presence.
Jonny: Yes, I have a methodical approach to it. One thing at a time. I would just practice just one thing at a time so I would go into a club the entire night. I would spend that time focused just on [improving] my voice.
Marcus: So here’s a quick question then….
Marcus: Marlon Brando has a very introverted presence. Well, he did before he became a skeleton.
Jonny: [Laughs] Yes!
Marcus: Then you have someone like – in the UK, we have a comedian called Russell Brand.
Jonny: Yes, I know Russell.
Marcus: Yeah, he’s doing quite well, he’s based in America now.
Marcus: But he has got a very extroverted presence.
Marcus: And you got these differences (ie. introverted and extroverted presence -types) So what controls that difference? How can someone have a quiet presence and not necessarily have to be the life and soul of the party but still draw people on themselves; as opposed to somebody who [exudes much more energy].
Jonny: That is an interesting question. For me, it’s about energy. It’s about intensity.
Marcus: Emotional energy?
Jonny: Emotional energy specifically. So, if I’m in the club and I’m wanting to be quiet and reserved and more introverted, I’m going to be projecting the same voice tone through my eyes.
Marcus: Okay. Right.
Jonny: So it’s as if I’m still trying to impact the group without having to speak.
Marcus: So you form like a strong mental intention [which affects your body language and character]?
Marcus: Fantastic. Jonny, well we’re going to end it there… but not the friendship hopefully.
Jonny: Of course not, of course not.
Marcus: Yes, that’d be rubbish wouldn’t it!
Jonny: Okay. If we’re going to stay friends, you probably should take that [hands over roll of dollar bills].
Marcus: [Mock puzzlement ] This roll of money isn’t as thick as the one I gave you?
Jonny: [Laughs] Yes, I know. It’s weird how that happens.
Marcus: So, I know you’re in the process of developing your website at the moment.
Jonny: I am.
Marcus: And I’m hoping you’re going to come back to YourCharismaCoach.com and share a few more pearls of wisdom. So hopefully everyone watching can keep track of what you do because Jonny is going to be – you know, I think he’s still deciding exactly what he’s going to be doing but your knowledge on the social dynamics of creating social empowerment and building people’s social skills is, I mean, second to none. You’re absolutely fantastic.
Jonny: Thank you very much.
Marcus: So it’s an absolute pleasure. You can stay in touch with what Jonny is up to. I’ll add a link to the bottom of the text below this video shortly but in the meantime, many thanks, Jonny Dupré .
Jonny: Marcus, a pleasure.
Marcus: Thank you so much.
Jonny: Thank you.
Marcus: See you shortly in the next episode of your charisma coach!
Improving your presence is key in getting noticed in a greater way, no matter if you’re on a stage or in a coffee shop. It’s easy to feel that the best way to avoid criticism is to avoid being noticed at all. Unfortunately, this type of thinking does even more harm in the long term, and often makes us feel invisible in social situations as we try and keep a low profile.
This interview will hopefully give you some ideas on how to maximise your moment in the limelight and enjoy that feeling of taking centre stage. It all comes down to how you direct your emotional energy. Practising this aspect of your social skills was the key message embodied by Jonny. I’m certain that you haven’t seen or heard the last of him..!
More great videos lay undiscovered in The Vault: in episode fifteen, you’ll discover the hidden ingredient that can transform anyone’s ability to instantly persuade and influence others!