Courtesy of Flickr user Steve Jurvetson

How often do we experience the truly extraordinary? Of course, we all define that differently. I’m defining that as something that goes beyond our normal experience of life. Something we cannot explain or fathom. Something bordering, if not moving in, on the mystical. When we experience it, we don’t forget it.

I had an experience like this recently. I attended a musical performance presented by a friend and fellow performer. She had created a wonderful jazz band focusing on the work of women composers. She is an outstanding pianist and composer herself, and had gathered a number of musicians together — a singer, drummer and another pianist. They were performing at a coffee house set up in a church hall. It was very casual with lots of tables and chairs. She’d attracted 40 or so people to listen to this two-hour concert. My friend and I took a seat ready to be entertained!

They started playing, and then it happened. Her sister pianist began to play. It was as if I was hit by a lightening bolt. Yes, she was talented. Yes, she was passionate and powerful. Her performance went beyond that. My whole body came alive. I looked at the friend and we both had our mouths open trying to comprehend what was happening. We couldn’t. This was beyond anything I’d experienced. This was extraordinary.

This was Presence 2.0. It goes beyond emotional connection. Beyond artistry or talent. This is connection at the deepest level.

You might think this is only reserved for the fortunate few. I disagree. I think this experience is available to all of us. I’ve had it, and I know you can too. It requires something different of us, however.

What does Presence 2.0 require?

  1. It requires we relinquish anything and everything that could get in its way. Would you agree we all have access to different personas, depending on the circumstances? We show up differently depending on who’s there, what’s required, and what works. Some people call these masks, or veils. They are different parts of our personalities we share depending on what we perceive is in our, and our audience’s, best interests. There’s nothing wrong with this. It’s sometimes necessary. What can create challenges is when we do this without awareness — when we’re carrying “baggage” into our presentations. We “become” our masks. To really connect with your audience, it’s necessary to relinquish these masks because, without being aware of it, they can cover up our true essence and dim our light — our presence. Next time you’re in a group setting, just notice — are you wearing a mask? How are you showing up?
  2. It requires courage. To strip yourself of these masks is no small thing. To speak your truth, stand in your power, and share your vulnerability — these are the actions of the truly courageous. They don’t come without consequences. I’m not suggesting you “do therapy from the platform.” No, not at all. I’m not suggesting making others uncomfortable by being inappropriate, unless you intend to do that. One of my teachers showed me how important it is to be discerning with our words and actions, and that timing is everything! Being purposeful and mindful is critical. I am suggesting we start noticing how we might play small, or withhold, or close off. It’s easy enough. Notice how open you are with others. Do you have a wall up? If so, make the choice to be open, just in that moment. See what happens.

  3. It requires surrender. In our culture, the word “surrender” can sound a lot like losing. That’s not what I mean. My interpretation of surrender is to let go of resistance. To allow. To be with. To go completely with the flow. I’m reminded of that song, Row, Row, Row Your Boat. That’s all about surrender. “Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.” To experience Presence 2.0, we need to surrender and go with the flow. We need to be in it and let it take us with it. That means, when you’re standing in front of your audience, and the mood changes, or you forget your next point, or the powerpoint stops working, your first step is to be with it — to let go of resistance. Humor helps. Then, take your next step. By not going on autopilot and reacting, we bring more presence into our lives and our presentations.

I have no idea what this amazing pianist was experiencing during her performance, but I do know what I was experiencing — pure presence, joy and love. When people speak of prodigies, I think this is what they are referring to. Someone who is so gifted, so connected, and so present, we are changed by the experience.

When you experience this level of presence, on the giving or receiving end, it’s powerful stuff. The good news is, we are all prodigies in the making in that we can all give our audiences, and ourselves, this experience. We can all embody Presence 2.0. If I can support you in your journey, please contact me at