The Songwriters 'P' Pod: Presence Seven characteristics shared by the most successful people in the music industry By Preshias Harris 

Presence Having presence is more than your physical body simply being in a given place at any given time. Just because you are standing in a particular spot or sitting on a specific chair in a certain location, doesn't mean that you have presence. When you have presence, your complete attention and every fiber of your being is focused on where you are and what you are doing. Taken to an extreme, all five of your senses are brought to bear with laser-like concentration on that specific moment in time and what you are doing there. 

In reality, a total state of presence is virtually impossible to achieve and would probably make us unaware if the house was burning down around us! However, developing your sense of presence is an essential element in your own professional growth and in your relationship with others. On a personal basis, any act of creation – a song, for example – requires your total presence, or at least as total as is practical. 

If you're constantly checking your email, responding to texts or (AAAaargh!) listening to someone else's music on your earbuds, you don't have presence in your creation and it will suffer. Worse still, if you are in a writing session with co-writers and you're answering phone calls because "I gotta take this" or you're saying, "Wait! You gotta see this video someone just sent me," you're not only destroying your own presence but also that of your co-writers. That's unproductive, but it's also inconsiderate in the extreme and is disrespectful to your colleagues.

Cell phones should be turned off or set to silent. The door should be closed to discourage drop-ins. Distractions should be kept to a minimum. Now you are ready to focus. Now you can find your presence. Presence isn't easy to achieve. Our senses are constantly bombarded with distractions and it's easy to find our attention wandering. Presence begins in the mind, according to Olivia Fox Cabane, author of "The Charisma Myth." To bring yourself to the here and now, Fox suggests a simple exercise: Focus on your body's physical sensations that you often ignore. Concentrate on your breathing for a few seconds or on the sensation of your feet touching the ground. It doesn't require deep meditation, simply a moment or two to bring your thoughts to the present moment. 

Presence also involves active listening. When you are actively listening, you make a conscious effort to hear not only the words that someone else is saying, but also understand the full message being communicated. For two or more people collaborating on a project, such as a recording or songwriting session, active listening is essential. You are communicating ideas, building on each other's concepts. You must hear the words and comprehend the underlying feelings. The three aspects of bringing presence into your personal professional life are these: · Focus on the here and now. Be in the present moment.· Focus on the project in hand. Actively put aside all distractions.·

Focus on the person you are with. Hear their words and feelings. To put it simply: Be here now. 

~~~Preshias Harris is a music journalist and music career development consultant with the emphasis on new and aspiring artists and songwriters. Her book, 'The College of Songology: The Singer/Songwriter's Need to Know Reference Handbook' is available at Follow her blog at