The following is a story I read years ago, and it always stuck with me. It reminds me that we all have the ability to turn on a light inside us.
"I'll never forget the day Marilyn and I were walking around New York City, just having a stroll on a nice day. She loved New York because no one bothered her there like they did in Hollywood, she could put on her plain-Jane clothes, and no one would notice her. She loved that. So, as we were walking down Broadway, she turns to me and says, 'Do you want to see me become her?' I didn't know what she meant, but I just said 'Yes' — and then I saw it. I don't know how to explain what she did because it was so very subtle, but she turned something on within herself that was almost like magic. And suddenly, cars were slowing, and people were turning their heads and stopping to stare. They were recognizing that this was Marilyn Monroe as if she pulled off a mask or something, even though a second ago nobody noticed her. I had never seen anything like it before."
~ Amy Greene, wife of Marilyn's personal photographer Milton Greene
Some people have a natural presence about them. They walk into any room, and they immediately gain everyone's attention. It's a wonderful gift to have, but it's also one that can be learned. We don't have to be a movie star to feel like one. There are steps we can take to turn the light on inside of us and make people notice.
Visualize. Before an event, picture yourself walking into the room. Your shoulders are back, your head is lifted, and you're smiling. Feel the confidence in your body and your mind. See a friendly face in the crowd and make eye contact. View the event playing out, knowing you're going to have fun. When you can play a scene in your mind ahead of time, you'll find that your attitude is more relaxed. When you feel self-assured, others will feel it too.
Positive Energy. People can pick up on nervous energy, and it's not inviting. Before I go on stage, I pump myself up by playing music I like to dance to. I twirl around my living room and shake my whole body up. I walk with purpose to the train station. By the time I get to the venue, the energy I built up explodes when I enter the room. I smile, and people are attracted to me. Having a sense of fun energy is infectious. People feel it and enjoy being around it.
Mindfulness. Practice being in the here and now. People can tell if you're distracted or merely waiting for your turn to speak. Focus your attention on the person in front of you. Use your new acquaintance's name when you ask a question. Everyone likes to hear their name, and it shows you're interested in them. You'll come across as more personable, and this adds to your presence. You'll notice how more at ease you'll feel when you stop worrying about yourself and listen to someone else's story. The best part is when your attention is reciprocated, and the other person wants to know about you.
I've witnessed transformations in other people where they go from feeling insecure to feeling a boost of self-esteem. It's as if a bright spotlight has found it's mark, and they shine. Try it yourself. Visualize the event beforehand and see yourself enjoying it. Build up positive energy by walking with purpose and feeling dynamic. Moving your body by walking briskly, jogging, or doing aerobics helps relieve anxiety. Smiling makes you approachable. When you feel good, others feel it too, and they want to be near you. Recall a happy thought, grin, and see your smile mirrored back. Relax, breathe, and listen to the person you're engaging with.
We all have unique talents, perspectives, and experiences to share. Have your Marilyn Monroe moment and tap into your power of presence and light.