In an interview with Charlie Rose, Steve Martin shared that his experience doing stand-up comedy at universities in the 1970s gave him a sense of confidence that people could smell. When Steve describes confidence this way, I think he means that he learned to create chemistry with his audiences. He learned to be so good at his craft that others could sense his mastery, they could feel how sure of himself he became and they could relax with him because he became so relaxed in himself.
It is this deep relaxation with listeners that is so intriguing and powerful. That’s what we all want, don’t we? We want to have a confidence that others can smell when we speak, perform or communicate. So how do we obtain such a deeply felt sense of confidence? Of course you must get good at what you do and what you speak about. Malcolm Gladwell would say you have to put in your 10,000 hours. But lots of people are brilliant at what they do, they are experts, yet they can’t present to groups with the same brilliance.
What it takes to be brilliant at presenting to audiences is the palpable sense of presence that happens when you relax into being who you are and open yourself to give all that you are and know to listeners. The skillset here is multi-dimensional. It is physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Physically you must relax at the center of attention and allow the flow of life energy to fill your body so you feel good. That happens when you have let go of all protection or pretense. Mentally you must focus attention on being there for your audience rather than worrying about how you are doing. Emotionally, you must be real and willing to share your authentic feelings, thoughts and ideas. And spiritually you must allow the power of God to support you and flow through you and out to the audience.
If all this sounds very esoteric, well, it is. It is a metaphysical state of feeling wrapped in the presence and love of spirit where your confidence is supreme because you know who you are and what you have to give to others. There is not quick tip to develop palpable presence. It is something that you build into yourself day by day through constant practice, meditation, prayer and absolute intention to release fear.
Steve Martin said people have often asked him how to be successful at stand-up comedy. His answer has always been, “Be so good that they can’t ignore you.” That, he says, causes them to come to you. That, he says, causes them to come to you.