Message, Platform, and Audience
Presence is something we all aspire to cultivate, but it’s something we struggle to define. It’s easy to tell when it’s not there, but figuring out how to get it is a different story entirely. To a certain extent, the question itself is leading us astray: presence isn’t something we can go get, it’s the product of other things.
To get to presence, you need to have yourself and your Red Thread, but that’s just the beginning. You also need a way to amplify your message and get it out there in the world, whether that’s marketing, a blog, a talk, or something else. Finally, you need to have a Red Thread that is in tune with your audience, so they will resonate with what you have to say.
Tamsen uses a demonstration to illustrate the three important elements of presence, to help you figure out what you need in your message. When you combine a clear Red Thread with a solid platform and tie it to your audience, you’ll have everything you need to bring presence to what you do.
– I’m fascinated by the concept of presence. Even if for no other reason than we seem to have trouble defining it. At least have trouble defining it without somehow re-incurring it by saying, “Well, you know, when someone’s just fully present.”
We know it very well by what it’s not, as Amy Cuddy points out in her book called Presence. But we’re still left with this question how do you get it? I think that one of the ways that we go about it is incomplete, but the Red Thread can help you round out the picture, and then be more fully present. I’m Tamsen Webster of tamsenwebster.com and this is Find the Red Thread.
How do we go about getting presence? Well to answer that question we have to understand that the question in and of itself is leading us astray. Because presence isn’t a thing. It’s not a thing we can go get. It’s the product of other things. Presence is like a rainbow.
So think about a rainbow: we can see it, it’s beautiful, and it’s out there and we can’t ever touch it. We can go and go and go and go and go towards it but it always stays just so far out of reach. And that’s because, while it’s magical and mysterious when we’re little kids, when we’re older we understand that a rainbow happens when there’s water vapor in the air and light to reflect off of it. And that means that, as un-fun as that sounds, it means that we have a power in our hands to go create our own rainbows whenever we want.
Think about a hot summer day and you’re spraying a garden hose. And you can see the rainbow on the water. Same thing is true with presence— we just have to understand what the components are, and the easiest way to do that is to show you. Who’s ready for physics? Yay! Okay, maybe it’s just me but what I’m here with is a tuning fork.
A tuning fork is a piece of metal that looks like a long U with a post at the bottom of it, and it’s tuned to play a certain note. If I strike it, it will play that note. Maybe not loudly, so let me hold it up to my microphone.
Now what does this mean for us and presence? Well these are the first couple of components we need. One is you— you’re the tuning fork— and the second is the note that we play. I’m going to suggest that that’s the Red Thread, either of you or of a particular message that you’re trying to spread. Now you already see the problem: just, “Hey, I’ve got a message. Hey, I’ve got this thing that I’m all about.” That’s not very loud. How can we have presence if nobody can hear it? So we need something else.
Now, the other thing we need is a resonating box. this box is the equivalent of, let’s say, how you get your message out there. Maybe it’s a talk, maybe it’s marketing, maybe it’s a book or a blog post or content. It’s the thing that allows you to make that idea that you have louder.
So it can be tempting to think that we have everything we need right now to get our message out into the world. But this is incomplete. And how is it incomplete? Well it’s incomplete because of this: if I strike this tuning fork and you hear that message, the minute I stop it, it stops making noise, which means that that message that we’re trying to get out there.
Okay, this is good, and so we know we need this component of me, an idea, my Red Thread and a way to get it out there. But I also have to figure out how to keep it going. And to do that, we need an audience. So now I have two tuning forks. I still have this one, which is you and everything you’re about, your Red Thread and how you’re showing it and getting it out to the world. And the same set exists for your audience, your customers, the market.
Something incredibly fascinating happens when these two are tuned to the same note. I can play this one, I can stop it and this one keeps ringing. This is why I love this demonstration so much, because it shows us the goal of presence— why people put so much pressure on it in the first place— because when everything is working we get that rainbow. We get that rainbow that moves seamlessly: information, an idea, a Red Thread from one person to another without force.
And we also know now what are all the components that we need in order to get there. The first and most important is that you have clarity around something that you care about. And that’s what the Red Thread’s very useful at helping to get to. What are you about? What problems do you solve? How do you solve them? Why do you solve them that way? It also means you need a way that’s still in tune with you to get that stuff out there, to show the world.
So you can look at that from the standpoint of: do your writings and your talks and presentations? Do they say what your Red Thread is all about? And, importantly, does what you do show what your Red Thread is all about? It also shows that we need to be aware always about how our Red Thread ties to other people’s. And we need to be thoughtful about how can I frame the change? How can I frame the message that I want through the lens of somebody else’s Red Thread? We don’t change our note to match theirs. We just make sure that it’s so clear that we find that consistency.
And even more important what it means is that what we’re doing is naturally pulling people to us. And isn’t that what presence really is? So now you have everything that you need. Start with the Red Thread; make sure that you’ve got clarity about what your own Red Thread is; then, look to make sure that what you’re saying and showing resonates. That it’s showing that consistently. That it’s making that Red Thread more visible, more obvious to other people. But remember, it has to stay in tune.
Lastly, use your Red Thread and the Red Thread method to tie what you’re saying to the Red Thread of the audience that’s there. Remember that the most, most, most important part of presence is being fully present. And the Red Thread is your key to get there. I’m Tamsen Webster of tamsenwebster.com. Now go find your Red Thread.