Presence in the Presence-tation

I liken presenting in front of people that I want to impress to a horse trainer walking into the stall of a very obnoxious and mean spirited stallion. Frightening, yet, if you want to move the horse, you must do something that will get the horse’s attention and respect. It is no different with moving a group to buy-in to you.

What’s Missing?
Most of us don’t have the mental mindset or inner confidence of presenting or even standing in front of a group to start with; we need something that will work right now. Self-defeating thoughts no longer need to hold you back when standing before a group. It all starts with the power of presence. The way you present yourself in front of people is a defining moment, that moment indicates what the group will expect from that point on.

Where Do You Start?
I completely believe that all things manifested start in the mind, yet fixing my mind is an arduous process. Lets start with the most profound and easiest place to bend the mind to your will: your personal presence.

If you master the power of your presence, the rest comes sooooooo much easier. Go back to the first paragraph, the one where I spoke about walking into an angry horse’s stall – you will either get injured or a horse will instantly know you are in charge – it is no different with presenting in front of a group of people. Master that first step before you open the stall door and you have mastered the horse. Horses smell fear and they respond to it. People smell fear too, and they feed on you when they sense it. Everyone you present to wants you to give him or her something they can walk away with – they really don’t want you to lose because then, they lose. Remember, after all, life is all about them.

The Short Philosophy Behind Presence
Just think of the people you like to hear speak, what is their presence like? Presence demonstrates attitude, attitude shows in the way you carry yourself and the way you use your voice and in what you give off. You gotta do what it takes to make it appear that you have a strong, powerful presence. Here are a few steps to move you in that direction.

How You Feel About Yourself
If you don’t like yourself no matter what clothes you wear or hairstyle you have or job title you carry, you have to do some serious work around that – remember, it is not physical; weight, hair and style are not what people see, they see the way you feel about yourself. When I am bummed, I must get my mind in a better place before I say a word to my audience. We can all do what we don’t feel like doing, especially if it is for a very short time. Action gets results.

Your Dress
I firmly believe that if you don’t think much of what you are wearing when you present to a group, neither will they. It doesn’t matter if the clothes are new or came out of the local 2nd hand store, it matters about how you feel in those clothes, that affects how confident you appear. I take great pains to make sure I feel great when I am going to present to a group, even if I am only going to give my name, business and tagline. EVERY time I present to a group I must feel good about myself – it is my rule and it works to my advantage; it will also work to yours.

Your Circumstance
I’m sure you think that every really good presenter is not hurting, they have something really great going on in their lives and they have no pain, no extenuating circumstances. After all, really powerful presenters have it all together when they stand or sit in front of a room? I say sit because one of the more powerful speakers I have seen is a quadriplegic; his message was so profound and so intense and so inspiring. It had to do with the way he projected his voice – that is all he really had to give to the audience and it showed up with confidence. Your power comes from projection and attitude, not from your circumstance. Great presenters often have even more tragic circumstances than we do; they have learned to draw strength from their pain.

Pamela’s Point: The true game is mental; you get a head start by doing something physical to align with the mental place you want to be.

When you master the art of presence, you can walk into a stall and the horse will respect you. You can stand in front of a group of mildly interested peers and instantly grab their attention, because they respect you.

There is so much more to say about the Presence in the Presence-tation, but personally I prefer shorter articles, so you’ll have to wait for part 2, Stand Out When You Stand There!

Now, It’s Your Turn…
What have you learned about you and what really goes into the initial presence of public speaking? I’d love to hear what works for you and what you would like to delve deeper into.

Want to Improve?

Pamela Cournoyer, CEO of Communicate With CLASS, Inc. offers personal coaching for those who want to improve their presentations. She works with both local and long distance speakers.


MAx Fabry is a regular contributor to a weekly column “ASK MAx” published in the SPRINGFIELD TIMES, Springfield, Oregon. The SPRINGFIELD TIMES is published weekly on Friday by S.J. Olson Publishing, Inc. This column is published on this blog by permission of the SPRINGFIELD TIMES. Visit their website at

Dear MAx,
I have worked in the same mill for over twenty years. Last week after I arrived for work, I was suspended because I had one beer before going to work. I didn’t deny that I drank. I agreed to a breathalyzer which was only .01. I was told I had to take an alcohol education class before returning to work. This is such BS! I know that mills are trying to cut employees, but, I have been a good worker and I was not drunk when I arrived to work. I think what I do on my own time is my business. How can an employer justify suspending someone for one beer on their own time?


Dear Jim,
Employers have an obligation to keep all employees safe while on the job. The drug and alcohol policy in your employee handbook probably spells out what will happen if an employee reports to work with any detectable level of alcohol. These policies are meant to commit the workplace to safe working conditions for both the employees and anyone else that comes in contact with the mill. Given the cost to the employer, the employee, and the community, having an effective alcohol and drug-free workplace policy is needed to ensure the longevity of the company.

Alcohol and/or drug use contributes to increased on-the-job injuries, reduction in productivity, and increase in employer costs—such as, insurance rates—which is passed on to the consumers.

Millwork is among one of the industries that has the highest rates of alcohol use. Employees that contribute to this statistic suffer income reductions up to 20% over their lifetime. Absenteeism among substance abuser is almost 10% greater. They take three times as many sick benefits. And, they are at least five times more likely to have an injury that they will file a workman’s claim.

Also consider that addiction of coworkers’ family members can affect the workplace by distracting the working during work hours. Again, even though the worker isn’t using, alcohol and/or drug addiction in their family causes distractions that leads to less productivity, absenteeism, and contributes to possible on-the-job injuries.

Communities also suffer. As costs to employers rise, the ability to maintain a viable business decreases. Particularly in small towns where a single industry defines the town, a business closing is devastating. This is even more devastating when you understand that there is a way to help keep costs down. That obligation to keep costs down falls on both the employer and employee. Every single employee needs to take responsibility for safety in the workplace.

The employer has the responsibility to institute an alcohol and drug program that takes into consideration workplace safety, health, and add value to their business. These programs must also be reasonable to include balancing workplace safety with employee rights to privacy.

According to the U.S Department of Labor, a good comprehensive drug-free workplace program includes five components: a policy, supervisor training, employee education, employee assistance, and drug testing.

There are a couple factors to consider as a worker in an environment where danger is always present with materials and machinery. First, the drug-free workplace policies put into place are not meant to cost you, they are meant to help you. Suspension doesn’t usually mean you are fired; suspension is a wake up call to assess where you are with your drinking and/or use of drugs.

Remember, effects from substance abuse on a body changes as the person’s body changes with age. Particularly, if you are not taking care of yourself with good nutrition, exercise, and rest. Most mills are running with shift work, which may contribute to employee’s physical and emotional states decreasing faster then with people working static shifts.

Workers that have been referred for appropriate educational programs, or treatment, for substance abuse problems, can usually be returned safely to the workplace. Unless there is a severe addiction, a worker that has attended a program can adjust their thinking and behavior to abide by the standards of the company.

Jim, you and your fellow employees are there to watch each other’s back. Turning your back on someone you know is using either drugs and/or alcohol is endangering your life, health, and income. That coworker that everyone knows is nursing a hangover, getting high right before work, or using on the job, probably will not be there to pay your bills when you become injured and unable to work. Do you really want someone like this watching your back? Do you really want to be “that” person yourself?

Have a question about addiction, recovery, or life transition such as retirement, career change, grief and loss issues, etc, ‘Ask MAx’. Send your questions to Lifestyle Changes, PO Box 1962, Eugene, OR 97440; or, e-mail your questions to Learn more about MAx Fabry as


MAx Fabry is a regular contributor to a weekly column “ASK MAx” published in the SPRINGFIELD TIMES, Springfield, Oregon. The SPRINGFIELD TIMES is published weekly on Friday by S.J. Olson Publishing, Inc. This column is published on this blog by permission of the SPRINGFIELD TIMES. Visit their website at

Dear MAx,
Recently there was big layoff at the business I have worked at for five years. Many of the employees that were laid off had been here a lot longer then I have been here. I considered several of these people to be more then follow employees, they were my friends. I love my job and I appreciate that I still have it and the income that comes with it. But, I am finding it harder to come into work and have a good attitude while I am here. How can I change these feelings of guilt?


Dear Bonnie,
Sounds like you are suffering as part of the ‘survivor guilt’ epademic that is presently sweeping the globe. While millions of people have been losing their jobs, millions of other people are left behind to continue working. This malady can leave you with feelings of both relief and anger; it may leave you confused and, even disoriented.

Unemployment in the U.S. has hit double digits in many areas. In November, 2008, Michigan was taking the greatest hit due to the problems the auto industry was having. Other complications in the economy, including bank failures, have also contributed to industries closing, and people losing their jobs. This trickle down affect is felt in just about every business in the country, and many other places around the world.

Opinions are that we are in the worse economical shape since the great depression era. Politicians scurry to come up with a plan to readjust the direction the economy has been going for almost two years. Their efforts, no matter how accurate, will take time to implement and change the downtown in the economy. Meanwhile, people will continue to loose their jobs, and those left behind will be torn with guilt.

There is a progression to the guilt that manifests: feelings of relief that you get to stay; realization that with less people YOU get to do more work for the same, or less money; and, finally, feelings of not feeling appreciated.

Dealing with any loss is a process that involves denial, bargaining, anger, sadness/depression, and acceptance. It is said that experiencing the process of loss is like being in a graduate program of life. If you allow yourself to experiencing each phase of the loss cycle, you will come out of it a stronger person.

In my Moving On workshop, which includes an entire day of grief and loss work, I suggest to my participants that in their deepest despair of their loss they institute the airline oxygen rule: When the oxygen drops down during an emergency, it doesn’t matter who is sitting next to you, you put the oxygen on yourself first. You need to be able to take care of yourself before you can take care of others.

Bonnie, to help you get through the feelings of survivors guilt that you are having, be sure that you take care of yourself: talk about what you are feeling. Be sure to get rest, eat right, exercise, and drink a lot of water. Set good boundaries at work as far as taking on more then you can handle. When talking to your laid-off friends, listen and acknowledge their experience, but don’t take their problems on as your own.

During these difficult economic times we are like rocks in a tumbler that are tossed to and fro, and we are getting bruised. But, as in other recessions, we will end up coming out more polished and valuable than ever. Just hang in there and believe that there are better times coming!
Have a question about addiction, recovery, or life transitions such as retirement, career change, grief and loss issues, empty nesting, etc, ‘Ask MAx’. Send your questions to Lifestyle Changes, PO Box 1962, Eugene, OR 97440; or, e-mail your questions to Learn more about MAx Fabry at