Resonant Presence: Leadership That Moves

“I felt it.” “I was moved.” “It hit me.”

The metaphors we use for powerful presentations describe an experience beyond cognitive. Great speakers engage us on a physical and emotional level. We may literally rise from our seats in a “standing ovation.” Resonant leadership presence lifts people up, and joins them in action.

In order to move others, we must be moved ourselves. We must be inspired by our vision. And we must express that inner energy outwardly with our voices and bodies. Do you have a practice to prepare your voice and body for presentations? Do you know what message you intend to send non-verbally?

When we activate our physical and vocal instruments, our message resonates. It is as if we are a bell. When we ring our bell- tap into our ‘why’, our passion, and our purpose- it vibrates out, resonating with our audience, ringing their bells. Together, we create a song called collaboration. As Simon Sinek articulates in his work on the “golden circle,” when and only when people are engaged on this level do they take action.

Here are some simple tools to step into resonant leadership presence and engage audiences of any size:

Feel Out the Space

We’ve all seen the presenter who is either too big (Who are they yelling at?) or too small (Who are they hiding from?). Your presence should neither make people reach towards you or push people away, but meet them where they are.

“Feeling out the space” is a technique from the theater world. Actors often perform a show in a small theater and then get picked up by a large theater. This tool helps them to calibrate quickly to the size of a new space:

  • Before the presentation, get yourself in the room
  • Stand at the front; eye its depth and width
  • Walk through Feel yourself expanded. Tell yourself, “This is my space”
  • Just before you begin speaking, take a deep breath. Let your eyes take in the full size of the space. See your audience

This will give your voice and body all the information needed to make your presence heard and felt by all in the room.

Move: Decisively!

If you feel the impulse to move, move — decisively. Restricting movement leads to distracting energy dissipation.

  • Idle hands fidget: Use gesture to emphasize your points.
  • Idle feet pace: Walk with the intention to engage individuals in different parts of the room.

Choose Your Tone

The voice is a truth teller. If you’re passionate about what you’re saying, we’ll hear that. If you aren’t…we’ll hear that, too. Get clear on your intention before your presentation.

Check In: Are you in a towards state– focused on the positive outcome–or an away from state- worried about a negative outcome? If you’re in an away fromstate, take a moment to journal or envision your most positive outcome. Being in a towards state has been linked to greater creativity and productivity.

Guide Us Vocally: 

We have no punctuation to guide us as you speak.

  • Use vocal emphasis and clear enunciation. This will guide our focus and help you avoid rushing.
  • Breathe and pause between items on lists or important points.


To yourself: To move us, you must first be moved. Find a “resonant statement” that expresses your intention in simple, actionable words:

  • In journal: Describe success. What strengths are you using? What’s your impact? How does this feel?
  • Now complete the sentence, “I am…” For example: “I am a strategic and connected leader,” “I am pioneering practices for organizational health,” “I am a torchbearer for a positive future.”
  • Continue playing with it. You will know you’ve found your statement because it will ‘move’ you.
  • Before the presentation: Write it, repeat it in your head, or find a private space to say it out loud.
  • Next step– Embody the statement by finding a full body, expansive gesture. This will allow you to ‘feel’ it- making your statement more resonant.

To us: The only difference between a presentation and a conversation is the power of your intention and urgency of your message. The same level of awareness and connection with your listener should be at play.

  • Make eye contact: If you “see” us, we will “hear” you.
  • Receive us: What are we communicating non-verbally?

For your next opportunity to get in front of a group, try one or two of these resonant presence tools. Share with us what works for you.