Personal energy—it’s an interesting phenomenon. Some people have it; others don’t. It explodes from some people; you can’t coax it out of others. It greatly benefits those who have it; it severely limits those who lack it.
Let’s say you know a recent college graduate who asks your advice for an upcoming interview. You could launch into the time-honored tips and lessons you’ve learned from first-hand experience: Firm handshake. Communicate enthusiastically. Speak up. No one-word answers. But if she has a healthy supply of energy—in her voice, personal demeanor, and attitude—you know she’ll do fine.
On the other hand, many executives don’t possess the above college graduate’s level of energy. Although they are talented people with above-average intellect, they move with less vigor and enthusiasm. And they have no idea why their careers have stalled out at senior management when they’d set their hearts on moving higher up the corporate ladder.
Energy. They lack it.
Consider political candidates. Those who can’t communicate their message with conviction and energy on the stump don’t stand a chance. Think about your favorite talk show guests. Those that communicate passionately about their cause or current project get invited back regularly.
People with energy have an edge.
So whether you’re speaking up in a meeting, delivering a formal presentation, interviewing for a job, or simply holding up your end of a conversation, it is imperative that you participate enthusiastically. Here are tips on tapping into your inner energy in order to make an outer impression:
Approach people when entering a room rather than hanging back and waiting for others to approach you. Prepare ahead of time that you will take the initiative in starting conversations and meeting others. Don’t wait for the action to come to you. If you do, you may very well get left behind and missed altogether.
Move. If you’re making a formal presentation, don’t stand in one spot for a long time. Those who do often lose all sense of natural body rhythm. They lock their knees and/or their arms, their breathing becomes shallow, and they lapse into a monotone murmur.
Don’t let that happen to you. Stay conscious of the link between your movement and your lips. Walk to a different spot occasionally to deliver a new point. Use the entire room as your “platform.” Movement takes energy. The more energy you exert as you move, the more energetic and natural your voice will sound.
Never pace, of course. Standing still to make a point can be powerful as well. But movement, especially toward or among your audience, engages people.
Gesture to package a point. Use your entire body, if appropriate. Become your own prop when you need one. Animate your face. Look like your message is registering with your brain. Don’t overact. But don’t underact either. No one wants to hear a presentation delivered in a droning, uninspired manner.
Vary your speaking rate, your volume, and your intensity so that your listeners know what’s important. Make others feel your energy as you drive home an idea. Let them rest a bit, then pick up the pace again. Modulate, modulate, modulate. If your listeners look bored, it’s because you sound boring!
Personal presence is one of your greatest and most success-defining attributes. Your energy can be a powerful tool to control a conversation, command a crowd, communicate a culture, and ultimately create a career.