Just got back from a trip to the West coast, where I was working with people at the top of the food chain in terms of their cognitive intelligence. Yale, Stanford, Notre Dame–brainiacs. My assignment? Help them get presence!
I skirted that word by simply saying that presence is hard to define, but we know it when we see it. So we did not spend any time trying to define it. Instead, we spent our time trying to display it.
So far, having dismissed the foggier aspects of the topic as too obscure for our purposes, we are working on vehemence as a behavior that could lead to presence.
We’re not saying that being more expressive is the only was to have presence, but it’s a start. To speak with vehemence makes people pay attention, which makes the speaker more of a presence in the consciousness of the listener.
I am aware of the argument that to speak with vehemence is to assert one’s truth by increasing the violence of the assertion. But I am also aware of this unfortunate fact: if truth were self-evident, eloquence would not be necessary.
We worked on vehemence of purpose, vehemence of structure, vehemence of word choice, and vehemence of speech and gesture. The before and after contrast was astounding.
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