Tag Archives: presence

Presentation presence.

Last week, on one of many programmes anticipating World Football 2010, one of the wisest of pundits John Motson said that the current England manager, Capello, was the first one to share a characteristic last evidenced by Sir Alf Ramsay, presence.

An interesting choice of word. One dictionary definition, “a quality that makes people notice and admire you even when you are not speaking.”

The Duke of Wellington is reported to have said of Napoleon “…his presence on the field made the difference of 40,000 men.”


It’s a rare quality but here are some who had or have it.

In South Africa last week even though not at the ceremony Nelson Mandela made his presence felt. As did David Beckham  once a presence on the pitch, now more so off it.

Among world leaders JFK  had it, Nixon didn’t. Obama had it during the race for the White House but seems to be losing it. Putin still has it.

Our politicians, ever since Margaret Thatcher and of course before that Churchill,  do not have it, with the possible exception of Boris.

On the cinema screen Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall had it as does Russell Crowe today. On the small screen Jeremy Paxman yes, Jeremy Vine not.

A few in sport. Footballer Drogba, cricketers from the past ‘beefy’ Botham and ‘King’ Viv Richards, in athletics Usain Bolt, in tennis  Boris Becker and Serena Williams but not her sister and in rugby Martin Johnson on the field but not now off it.

Charles Saatchi, of course, has mastered the art of invisible presence..

Since most pitches will not be graced with any of these , the challenge  for any team is to at least make their presence felt!  Pitch a performance and rehearse the hell out of it.

Presence on the world stage.

In the Pitchcoach Awards for 2008, posted here in January, Gordon Brown received the accolade of Most Improved Performer. He has moved on!

Whatever G20 eventually achieves right now it is a success. It is a triumph for Brown.  His standing on the world stage is enhanced, he demonstrated leadership in chairing the meeting and was, according to the Dutch prime minister “inspiring”. How has he managed to do this?

Basically, in two ways.  Firstly, he prepared like hell.  The world trips, the intense negotiations in advance, all meant that the ‘content’ of G20, the ‘what they would say’ had been sorted before the event.  Second, on the day he  focussed his energy on the ‘way’ he performed.

His was the commanding presence, not easy to achieve given the company he was in.  As Simon Carr says in The Independent, “Also the PM looks good: earlier he had a face like an old dish cloth but yesterday he was smooth and tanned…..he carried the day. He’s had a wonderful time-and its hard to dislike anyone enjoying themselves that much.”

Interestingly, the book Winning Auditions. 101 Strategies for Actors, discussed in two earlier posts, talks about  how to Cultivate Presence.

 It says ” Fame is a result of presence… This appealing quality amounts to not much more than a serene temperament born out of ample self-assurance…  Approach your role with a sense of ownership…  Back up your belief of ownership with a supreme sense of conviction…”

Gordon Brown’s  presence carried the day and he achieved almost as many plaudits as the  amazing Michelle.  Her presence lent humanity to the G20 show.