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Advice for Students

Are You Always Fully “Present”?

April 03, 2012  |     |   0 Comment

Imagine this:  you are giving a presentation and have invited a number of business leaders in the Community to attend.  You have suggested that everyone arrive about half-an-hour before your presentation to allow time for networking.  Everyone you have invited, except for one guest, arrives prior to your presentation and takes some time to meet the other attendees.  It is time to begin and you invite everyone to take their seats.  Just as you do so, the last guest arrives.  You politely greet and introduce yourself to her and invite her to help herself to some tea or coffee; you then proceed with your presentation.   The room is quiet, but for the tinkering noise in the background of a spoon hitting the sides of a porcelain cup as your late guest makes herself a cup of coffee.  As you continue with your presentation, the late guest takes her seat toward the front of the room.  As you speak, you make eye contact with each person in your audience; you notice that you have everyone’s attention, but for the late guest.  She  has her Blackberry in hand, is and feverishly working on emails.  She is not being discreet; her Blackberry is reached out in front of her and she is quietly speaking the words in her emails as she is writing them.  You continue and focus upon those guests who are attentive.  Suddenly a cellphone rings.  Surprise, surprise – it is the late guest’s phone.  To your horror, she actually answers it while you are giving your presentation!  You make eye contact with her, and she quickly lets the person who called know that she is not able to talk, and hangs up.

Contrast this situation with another.  Imagine that you are a participant in an intensive two-day workshop for business leaders, focusing on communication and coaching.  An intimate group of about twenty people attend.  Throughout the two-day workshop, you connect with each and every person through one-on-one, team-building, and communication exercises; you and every other attendee is attentive and interactive during the instructional portion of each day’s workshop; and slowly, relationships and connections evolve.

Over the last week, I experienced each of these scenarios.  To my horror, I observed the scenario I outlined in the first situation.  I was frustrated and disappointed to watch a person, considered to be a business leader within the Community, have so little respect for their environment, including the the Presenter and the other attendees.

In contrast, I observed the joy and fulfillment that the attendees of the workshop experienced by giving their focus and respect to the Presenter and the people around them.

As a participant in each of these situations, I witnessed the impact of what truly being ‘present’ means.  A person can choose to show up to work, a networking event, a presentation, or a workshop.  But just because he or she is physically present does not necessarily mean that they are really there; which is a form of “presenteeism.”

What impact do you leave upon others in your organization, your networks, at professional development events, or social events?  Do you connect wholly and completely with others or do you just ‘show up’?  Do you demonstrate your interest and respect for others by acknowledging them, or are you distracted by the myriad of tasks and responsibilities you feel you have to meet in the here-and-now? Most importantly, what impact do you want to leave upon others? If you choose to be 100% present in all that you do, imagine the difference you can make and the world of possibilities ahead!


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