Most speakers and presenters are taught the value of projecting energy when they speak. It’s crucial for standing out in front of an audience. But this quality is one of those “stand out” strategies that can serve you well in all of your interpersonal communication.
I read something years ago by cultural anthropologist Dr. Angeles Arrien that really resonated with me. Her research on ancient indigenous people revealed that the “power of presence” was one of the three powers that these ancient tribes looked for in their shamans, or leaders (the other two were the power of communication and the power of their convictions). These ancients believed that you exhibit presence by “choosing to be present and visible, showing up energetically.” Note the word “energetically.” Energy, or enthusiasm, is a powerful stand out attribute. It’s been around for thousands of years!
It’s important because if you can’t get excited about your product, your service, or yourself — then I certainly can’t. We generally don’t look to shy, reserved, wallflower types for leadership and guidance. Leaders have dynamism — a dynamic presence. By conveying a conviction and passion for what they do, their presence is powerful, motivating, inspiring, and adds value.
Occasionally, I hear some pushback from clients that they’re just not naturally demonstrative people – they feel as if this enthusiasm concept is something that would be artificial for them and make them come across as fake. But I believe anyone, no matter how reserved or quiet they might be, can express enthusiasm if they just follow the clues in the last four letters of the word: “iasm.” Think like this: “I Am Sold Myself.” If you believe in something, if you are committed to the rightness or the justice of it, if you are convinced it will solve the problem or is the best answer, then you should be able to show that. Whether it’s the strength of your voice, the purposefulness of your gestures, the intensity of your eye communication, or the expression on your face, you can project a form of enthusiasm that works for your style.
The thing is that if you don’t project that, if you’re lackluster and noncommittal, shrug off responses, mumble replies, look bored — then I think it’s safe to assume that others will have a hard time believing that you believe in what you’re talking about.
You’ve probably heard the old adage that enthusiasm is contagious. I don’t think that means that if I’m all bubbly and excited about something, it’ll make you all bubbly and excited. But what I think it implies is that we do tend to respond more positively to enthusiasm. If I present an idea in a dreary, uninspiring way, you’re not nearly as likely to get excited about it as you might if I showed my conviction and passion about it. Enthusiasm sells.