About fifteen years ago, in the middle of a keynote address before approximately 3,500 people, I asked for two volunteers to join me on stage to demonstrate the principles of presence. I’d never tried the experiment before in front of such a large group, and frankly, I was a little nervous. What if nobody volunteered? What if the volunteers were so timid that I couldn’t help them? What if they were already so strong that I couldn’t think of any coaching tips to increase their impact?

The first volunteer steps up on the stage, takes the handheld microphone, introduces herself, and overviews a key project she’s working on. After thirty seconds, I call out, “Stop!” then I pull her aside privately for sixty seconds and give her a couple of ...

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