Presence with Purpose: Harnessing the Power of Stage Presence

Presence with Purpose: Harnessing the Power of Stage Presence

Conquering the Stage: From Fear to Fearless

Around fifteen years ago, I experienced one of the most crippling moments of my life. I was standing in front of a room of 200 medical professionals in Dubai, presenting my master’s research. As I opened my mouth to speak, the words felt like they were stuck in my throat, and my body betrayed me with shaky hands and a racing heart. It was the worst performance of my life – I was dying on that stage, and I knew it.

That pitiful display was a wake-up call. I had to confront my fear of public speaking, a fear that, according to studies, is more common than the fear of death itself. But like the immortal words of Theodore Roosevelt, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” I knew I had to overcome this, not just for my career, but for my own personal growth. And so began my quest to master the stage, to not only conquer my fears but to revel in the thrill of public speaking.

Mastering the Mindset and the Skillset

Mastering public speaking is achieved through the dual pursuit of mindset and skillset enhancement. It’s a delicate balance between what you say and how you say it. The words must be carefully chosen, delivered with a voice that commands attention, and accompanied by body language that speaks volumes. Additionally, keeping your audience engaged by making it interactive and using visual aids keeps their attention and makes your message more memorable.

As one professor shared on the OnStage Blog, “Mastery lies in the delicate balance between what you say and how you say it – words must be chosen with care, delivered with a voice that commands attention, and accompanied by body language that speaks volumes.”

The Power of Passion

But it’s not just about the mechanics of public speaking. As the legendary Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” And that’s where the power of passion comes in.

When we speak with authentic passion, our nerves dissipate, and the presentation’s goal becomes more altruistic – it’s no longer about us and our ego. We can get out of our own way and truly connect with the audience. A great start is to ask yourself, “What am I truly passionate about in this presentation?” Let that passion guide your narrative, and your audience will follow, eager to be taken on an emotional journey.

Harnessing the Power of Excitement

Emotions are infectious, so how you turn up impacts the others in the room. Of course, people get nervous – it’s a normal reaction, and it’s not a sign of weakness. In fact, it’s an integral part of growth. Interestingly, our body has the same physiological response when we’re nervous and when we’re excited – we sweat more, our heart rate increases, and we feel butterflies in our stomach.

The game-changer is in how we reframe and manage our mindset. Instead of feeling threatened and anxious, we can see it as an opportunity and get excited. Many elite athletes do this exact thing before a big game or match – they tell themselves and others, “I’m excited.” And this simple shift in perspective can transform our stage presence, turning us from quivering wrecks to confident, captivating performers.

The Power of Storytelling

When it comes to delivering a compelling message, the greatest way to do that is through storytelling. As the author on OnStage Blog put it, “The most powerful words a speaker can say are ‘Let me tell you a story.'” We resonate with narratives, and studies show that when we listen to a great storyteller, our brainwaves synchronize with theirs.

Great stories are told in the present tense (harder to do than you think), contain lots of detail, paint the picture of the scene as if the audience is there, and are conversational. And how we deliver these stories is just as important. We know that people don’t remember what we say – in fact, the words we use only account for 7% of the impact we have on the audience. The non-verbal part of our presenting accounts for 93% – 55% body language and 38% voice tone. So, we must think intentionally about our body language and quiet the “body noise.” How we stand, move, and the tone of our voice can amplify our message and truly captivate the audience.

The Journey of Continuous Growth

Developing a powerful stage presence is an ongoing journey of personal and professional development. As one LinkedIn article suggested, “View every speaking opportunity as a step in your ongoing journey of personal and professional development.” Embrace feedback, refine your approach, and see each presentation as a fresh chance to leave a mark on the hearts and minds of your audience. It doesn’t matter if you’re in front of a crowd of 200 or 2 people – embrace the opportunity to tell your story with passion, and know that you will grow from it.

Bringing It All Together: Presence with Purpose

As I reflect on my journey from that disastrous performance in Dubai to the confident, captivating speaker I am today, I’m reminded of the power of stage presence. It’s not just about mastering the technical aspects of public speaking – it’s about harnessing the emotional connection, the storytelling, and the sheer excitement of being in front of an audience.

When we approach the stage with presence and purpose, we don’t just deliver a presentation – we create an experience. We transport our audience, invoke their emotions, and leave a lasting impression. And that, my friends, is the true power of stage presence.

So, whether you’re a seasoned performer or just starting out, remember to cultivate that mindset of mastery, speak with authentic passion, harness the power of excitement, and tell your stories with conviction. Because when you do, you’ll not only captivate your audience, but you’ll unlock a new level of personal and professional growth.

And who knows, maybe one day, you’ll be the one inspiring others to conquer their fears and embrace the exhilaration of the stage. After all, the Musical Theater Center is always here to support you on your journey.

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