What is it about movie stars and famous people that allows them to command a room with so little effort?
What can we learn from them about projecting confidence and commanding attention?
For example, what does Scarlett Johansson have that other people don’t have?
(Okay, maybe she is a bad example.)
How about someone a little less gorgeous:
(yeah, that will do.)
While Paul Giamatti is not going to light up a room with his good looks, he does command a lot of attention on the screen. While he is definitely a strong character actor who is committed to his craft, he is also able to hold our attention for sustained periods of time. His intensity is mesmerizing. How is he able to do that?
Politicians are also this way, and the more successful of them are pretty much considered celebrities when they move through a crowd.
Bill Clinton is a good example because he is often held up as this iconic model for all wannabe celebrity politicians. We have to remember that he once looked like this:
The assumption that we often make is that people are either born with presence or they are not. Remember, we don’t usually get to see people in their ugly duckling stages. Rather we experience them in all their fully-grown celebrity-ness. While I think that it may be true that some people do develop a natural ease in the way they communicate, it is not true that only those people are able to project confidence. A confident presence is something that can be learned (as Amy Cuddy writes about in her new book).
So what is different about politicians, CEOs and celebrities who have learned to walk into a room and command attention?
(Just like this)
Here are a few things that will help anyone have more presence and project confidence, regardless of the situation or the setting:
- Believe that everyone here loves you. While this may sound silly, it is probably one of the most powerful reasons why some people are able to resonate confidence in any situation. Famous people are told all the time that people love them, so they don’t have to work so hard to believe it. If you aren’t sure what I mean, just imagine how you feel when you think that people love you versus how you feel when you think that people hate you If you can tell yourself that everyone in the room loves you (even if you have to lie), then you will go a long way to making yourself look and feel more comfortable.
- Act like you belong. If you look at people who command a room, they always seem so comfortable in their space. For some people this might just be how they feel, but I can speak from experience that it doesn’t have to be that way. A big part of acting is about learning to be present and ignore the self doubt. Think of how you enter a room. Do you poke your head in first to see if you recognize anyone or do you stride in confidently, expecting to see someone who will recognize you? The fact is that the way you enter a room can dictate both how you feel about yourself in that space and how the people in the room perceive you.
- Be a professional. If you had a chance to watch Beyoncé’s dance at the Superbowl halftime show, then you may have seen her fall down at one point: Or maybe you didn’t see it because she just kept on moving. In the world of performing, the ability to deal with challenges on stage without letting it affect your performance is considered “being a professional.” Almost anyone can do a good job when everything is going right, but it requires something special to be able to stay present and confident in the face of uncertainty. It is common to walk into a meeting or into an event feeling like you are trying not to make a mistake or get noticed. Movie stars just assume that they will get noticed. Some of them are even a little clumsy and still seem to make it work. The key is to keep going and not make a huge story out of it. If you make a mistake, just be professional.
Finally, the key to having more presence is to understand that you are no different from anyone else. Movie stars and famous people are buoyed up by the attention they get, so we don’t always see their humanity (their fear of rejection and insecurity), but it is there.
Choose someone you admire, someone who is everything that you wish you were.
Picture that person in your mind and pretend for a moment that you are her.
How does that person carry herself?
How does she take up space?
Where does she look when walking into a room?
How do you imagine that this person feels while entering a room?
Pay attention to how you feel when you imagine that you are this person and allow that feeling to spread to your body. The effect will be that you will seem more confident. Your presence will grow.
The only thing that you have to lose is a low self-esteem.