Photo credit: Liz Flores on Under30Experiences Iceland

Photo credit: Liz Flores on Under30Experiences Iceland

Last week one of my best friends asked me a simple question: “Do you think people can be taught to have presence in a room?”

After years of studying human interaction, public speaking, hosting events, and looking at things unconventionally, here is what you need to know…

Lets start with confidence.

Want to captivate a room?  It starts way before you arrive.  People can sniff out your bullshit and can tell if you are insecure.  Jordan Harbinger and I actually talk about this on his podcast called Art of Charm.  When your words don’t align with your intentions, it’s what you call creepy.

Nobody ever captures a room being creepy.

If you are going somewhere, why not first try sitting quietly and becoming clear on what you want out of your social interactions.  If your intention is to close the deal, then you have to really believe you can close it.  You have to exude confidence that your product is the best and that needs to come from within.

If your product isn’t the best and you plan on lying, the other party will most likely be able to sniff it out, call your bluff, or just get bad vibes from you.  Other people can sense when you are not genuine, whether you realize it or not.

When I was 20, I read something by Eben Pagan called “Deep Inner Game”.  His lesson was that no matter what pickup line you use on a woman if you aren’t truly confident in yourself you are going to fail.  Same goes for every other social interaction.

Next, start visualizing.

Want to own a room?  Start visualizing what it means to be extremely confident and see that in your head.  If your visualization is strong enough, you’ll actually feel what it’s like to be confident in your entire body.  When your whole body is involved, this feeling should radiate through you as if you just walked in and nailed it.

Most olympic athletes, professional golfers, and other high performers use visualization as a form of practice.  Their visualizations are so intense, it’s almost as good as actually doing it.  They practice this until they’ve convinced themselves of this confidence.

Watch that putt drop into the hole.  Picture yourself walking through that door.  Visualize yourself going in for the kiss.

Find a mentor.  

I have a few friends whose fathers are extremely good with people and know how to own a room.  They’ve been very successful in business so when I am invited to spend time with them, I always go.

Tim Ferriss says he hangs out with Kevin Rose for this reason and suggests studying people like Bill Clinton giving a speech.   If you ever get the chance to see Tony Robbins in person he is unreal.  It also helps that he’s 6’7” tall and literally larger than life.

Ever see someone who others are star-struck around?  Study that.  Watch James Bond movies and emulate how smooth he is.  Next time you find yourself attracted to someone, go up to them and ask them what their secret is.

Finding friends who have great interpersonal skills and actually believe in themselves from the inside-out are the ones you want to surround yourself.  Find authentic people and cut out the ones who are just full of shit.  Whether you like or not you start picking up the traits of the people you spend time with.

BTW, it’s not always the loudest guy in the room who is most confident.  Think of Denzel Washington in the movie American Gangster.  “The loudest one in the room is the weakest one in the room,” he says.

Practice makes perfect.

Want to practice having presence?  Why not join Toastmasters public speaking organization?  I once bombed a talk in front of 1,000 people and someone suggested I take an acting class…

Maybe start going to networking events every single night and walk into the room with confidence.  Find a friend who wants to work on this too and recap what you learned together.

Have a cocktail, but not more than one.  Liquid confidence does not equal real confidence.

Lets get more advanced.

It might sound weird, but your behavior  in the room will only take you so far.  80% of the battle is actually within you.  You can be well dressed, slick, and have funny jokes, but it doesn’t mean people will really be captivated…

Your energy needs to come from within.  Imagine what having a halo effect or an aura around you like Star Wars.

Ever hear the expression a magnetic personality?  It’s actually a real thing.  In physics everything has a gravitational, magnetic field around it including human beings.  When people are magnetized towards you they get sucked in to your gravitational pull.  Imagine yourself sitting in a room telling a story and having people attracted to you like a magnet.

Ever hear of a polarizing personality?  Again, it literally means that people have polarity within them.  (Opposites attract!)  If you find yourself being polarizing, repelling people, and pissing people off all the time, you should probably look into that.

Wait what?

Yes, this concept of aura can be practiced in real life.  Joe Rogan did a great podcast with a scientist who talks about how you can pick up the energy of others.  It’s how humans know they are being stared at.  If someone is projecting their energy on you, you can feel it.  It’s the sixth sense.  Everyone has it, but most people aren’t aware of it.

Studying modern western science and ancient eastern practices has really helped me tremendously.  Even if this stuff is over your head it all comes down to the basics… you don’t even have to say a thing…

Just listen.

Next time you want to hold someone’s attention, actually focus on what this person is saying.  Listen as intently as possible.  

Don’t think about what you are going to say next, stop wondering what time it is, or who just texted you.  Put your mind in a meditative state and make that person feel like they are the most important person in the world at that moment.  I guarantee they will feel your magnetism.

Want to have presence?  Start by being present.

Matt Wilson is the co-founder of Under30CEO and Adventurer in Residence at the travel company Under30Experiences.  Join them in Costa Rica, Belize, or Nicaragua this winter and signup for free a pre-release copy of Matt’s book coming 2015.