We’ve all heard of the “it” factor — that thing some people have that makes the rest of us want to watch and listen to them. Another word for the “it” factor is charisma, or what Simon Cowell would call, the “X” factor. He created a whole show about that.

Another word for this is “presence,” except presence has a much greater meaning. When someone has presence, in addition to that compelling attractiveness and charm of charisma, he or she also commands authority and respect and brings with it a humility, graciousness and ease.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines presence in several ways. Two of those are:

1. The bearing, carriage or air of a person; especially stately or distinguished bearing; a noteworthy quality of poise and effectiveness.

2. Something (as a spirit) felt or believed to be present.

What I take from these definitions is this: presence is something we feel, experience and respond to in another that comes across in his or her bearing and in the quality of our exchange. For each of us, presence is our own unique expression and shows up in how we present ourselves and relate to others.

While many speakers and performers have the “it” factor, the great speakers and performers have presence. They are authentic. They are consciously connected to who they are and confident in their purpose.

How do you “get” that? In many ways, presence is very mysterious, but the more you connect with your authentic self, the more you will release your authentic voice and exude “presence.” When it comes to speaking, you can start by paying attention to these two key elements: authentic intention and skillful action.

Authentic intention: What do you want for your audience? The answer to this question comes from your very heart and being. How do you want to support your listeners? How do you want them to feel when they have left your presence? What gifts are you there to give? When we know someone’s words and actions come from a place of kindness, caring and true service, we are more likely to let those words in. It’s about building trust.

Skillful action: We can have the best of intentions, but without skillful action, we might not communicate what we intend. We might not have the kind of impact we would like.  Skillful action incorporates getting very clear about our message, crafting it with care and deliberation, and delivering it with skill.

Some say the “it” factor is something you’re born with, or not. I don’t know. But, when it comes to presence, we all have that within us. If you want to have the presence to make a significant impact on your audience, and in your life, it’s as simple as deciding to take the time to look at your authentic intention and engage skillful action. Because as I am fond of saying, if you’re there doing the work, it is you.

What is "presence" in speaking, and how do you get that?