Remember that jolt of energy that flicks a switch in your whole body, akin to electricity, when you are driving without full attention and a child runs out into the street, and you can only hit the brakes if you find your presence? Or think of the energy you feel if you are followed by a stalker and you need presence to outwit them. Or the surge of energy when you catch a stranger’s eye and share a moment. Or the moment you understand an idea, the clouds part in the mind and light enters – you can only be enlightened when you are present.

– Patsy Rodenburg, “Presence”

I was recently at a cocktail party, where I found myself talking about presence to complete strangers. It all started with the dreaded question:

“So, what do you do for a living?”

Given how many times this has happened in the past, you’d think that I would have nailed the answer by now. But, no. Not me. Instead of saying something simple and powerful, I started meekly:

“Well, I’m an organisation development consultant…”.

One look at my interlocutor and I knew that I might as well have said: “I’m a Nanotechnological Bioinformatics System Integration Researcher” or “A Curator of Non-Marine Molluscs”.