Writer's Note: This is one of a series of 10 articles on the Clifton Youth StrengthsExplorer themes. For more info on StrengthsExplorer, click here.
“When you can do the common things of life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.” – George Washington Carver
Students with Presence in their Top 3 Strengths Explorer themes are talented in commanding the attention of others. They enjoy being at the front of the room telling stories and taking the lead, and others naturally watch them and listen to them. Like the peacock with magnificently-colored tail feathers that are a beautiful sight to behold, those with the Presence StrengthsExplorer theme have a way of speaking and doing things that captures the attention of those around them.
The primary defining characteristic of students with the Presence StrengthsExplorer theme is their natural talent in creating an audience. However, the way they do so may vary from person to person. Some may prefer a more lighthearted approach, telling dramatic and entertaining stories to draw laughs from a crowd. Others may prefer a more serious approach, calling attention to a worthy cause. At times, those with Presence can be misunderstood as "attention-seeking" and "not a team player," particularly if the talent theme is in its infancy. However, at its maturity, the Presence StrengthsExplorer theme is a powerful talent in being able to effectively communicate on behalf of the group, bringing important messages to light.While the Caring StrengthsExplorer theme is likely to say, "I care, therefore I’ll listen and lend a helping hand," the Presence StrengthsExplorer theme is likely to say, "I care, therefore I’ll make sure the message is heard." And while the Competing StrengthsExplorer theme is likely to say, "Let's do this faster and better than anyone else can," the Presence StrengthsExplorer theme is likely to say, "Let's do this in such a way that our message will be heard loud and clear."
What does the Presence talent theme look like?
“I’ve always loved being at the center of people’s attention. I’d keep dreaming of one day becoming famous or well-known. Being the “cool kid” was always the goal that I wanted to achieve. The idea of being able to command the attention of a crowd has always excited me in a way that motivates me to share my thoughts openly with whoever would listen. When all the eyes in a room were on me, it didn’t scare me. In fact, it served to boost my confidence and enthusiasm to speak as I pleased. While there were times when this was beneficial, I also realized that my sharings were not always well-received. These were the times when I would come across as a rude and interruptive person, who was attention-seeking and very self-absorbed. It looked like I only cared about being heard, and not whether what I had to say was valuable to others. So, often, I would unwittingly create a bad impression of myself. In school, I’ve learnt to channel this desire to be heard towards actively volunteering to do project presentations, or give speeches. I also took drama as a subject and had many opportunities to be heard when I had to deliver monologues and act in plays!” – A. L.
As a teacher, how do I develop a student with Presence?
- Affirm the little ways in which a message or a performance was delivered particularly well. Pay attention to cues such as tonality, facial expressions, comedic/narrative timing, and body language that help to reinforce the message. The knowledge that someone is watching attentively will give the student with Presence a boost of confidence, and will help to develop and refine his or her own style of delivery.
- Honor their need to perform. Because those with Presence naturally enjoy having the attention of others, suggest different ways this energy can be channeled productively. For instance, are there extracurricular activities such as Speech & Drama, Band, or Debate Team that the student can join? Are there class projects in which giving presentations is an essential component? Help this student find outlets where the Presence talent theme can be put to good use.
- Recognize that though Presence is a powerful strength when used for the group, there are also times during which its natural drive to command attention may be disruptive. Do not quench this drive; instead, help this student develop a process for thinking through the larger impact that his or her actions have on the class or group. This will equip the student to use the Presence strength productively, both during their schooling days and in their future vocations.
As a student with Presence, how do I grow it to maturity?
- Take up various opportunities to practice your natural talent for capturing the audience's attention. This will also help you to explore the "stage" that you enjoy most. Is it acting? Debates? Presentations? Politics? Consider joining extracurricular activities where your talent for performance can shine. Are there after-school programs you could join where you could learn and perform?
- The next time you read a book or watch a movie, study the way these authors or actors hold your attention. Who do you think is the most compelling character in the story? What makes them so interesting? How did they get so good at their craft? The more you identify the techniques they use, the more you can refine your own techniques for holding the audience's attention.
- Think about the primary message you want to communicate. Because you are likely to have quite a bit of influence over the group, your words carry weight. The things you do, the activities you choose or choose not to take part in, and the way you talk about others all have an effect on those around you. How could you use your Presence talent theme to make a positive difference?
Concluding Thoughts: Those with the Presence StrengthsExplorer theme can sometimes be misunderstood as self-centered and poor team players, particularly when their natural talents are used at inappropriate moments. However, when wisely directed and used for the benefit of the entire group, the Presence theme can become an incredible voice that unites the group and rallies people to a meaningful cause.
Written by Tan Meiling
As a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, Meiling is passionate about helping people discover their innate potential and celebrating who they are. She enjoys reading, learning, and sharing her knowledge through writing articles. Meiling is also actively giving StrengthsFinder coaching to individuals and facilitating workshops in Singapore.