What is self-presentation?
According to Wojciszke (2002), self-presentation is actions taken by a specific person in order to create the impression they prefer. There is a concept in social psychology that self-presentation is the type of behavior that results from specific motivators and appears when there is an opportunity to implement them (Leary, 1999). In the literature, you can also find a definition that associates self-presentation with misleading, creating false appearances, and describes it as morally questionable. On the other hand, at the opposite extreme is the definition derived from the theory of symbolic interactionism, which emphasizes the fact that self-presentation is a normal social phenomenon and there is nothing wicked about it (Schenkler & Weigold, 1992).
Differences between online and offline self-presentation
Online self-presentation is a way people show selected elements about themselves to present their own image online in a specific way. Being present in the online world gives you the opportunity to create different versions of your image and manage it. Our personality can influence the form of self-presentation, and people who have greater self-control and a coherent image of self, more often also present a coherent real and virtual image. People are characterized by increased social anxiety, and adolescents create their idealized image more often. Online communication is also preferred over live communication by people with low self-esteem and higher social anxiety (Fullwood et al., 2020).
Self-presentation in public speaking
Self-presentation strategies are also very important in the virtual world. Online presence is a method for communicating, displaying yourself and your values (Bronstein, 2013). Selecting information and photos that go to the web allows you to create an image that is not necessarily in line with reality. The study conducted by Parzoń (2019) on Linkedin users, shows they use positive strategies of self-presentation and self-promotion. They create their image by emphasizing competencies and establishing common ground with their readers, as well as arousing sympathy and exemplifying experience through evidence, e.g. references. A tool for self-presentation, in addition to Linkedin, can be social media, which is mainly based on presenting your image by taking selfies and showing yourself in a positive context (Pounders et al., 2016).
Image management in online dating
Image management is also important when it comes to online dating. The purpose of self-presentation on dating websites is to create an attractive image. Both women and men create their own images that are different from reality, and women do it on a larger scale (Peng, 2020). In a study by Ellison et al. (2006), it was shown that users of the dating portal felt pressure on the one hand to present themselves in superlatives, and on the other hand, they were assessed in terms of the feasibility of the profiles. Moreover, live dating gave them less control over the content presented. Online self-presentation allowed them to express their true self more, as the anonymity of the web provided space for them to reveal more negative aspects of their personality as well.
Strategies of self-presentation in public speaking
Bromley (1993) distinguished two types of self-presentation: strategic and tactical. Strategic self-presentation involves taking planned and pragmatic actions in advance, and their aim is to create your own image for potential recipients in the future (Wojciszke, 2002). An example of strategic self-presentation in public speeches may be a well-thought-out dress, the assumption of accessories reflecting the social status and achievements, learned patterns of adequate gestures, and the use of an appropriate, virtual background. In turn, tactical self-presentation is spontaneous and habitual, and its purpose is to present ourselves to the audience that is currently with us. It deals with scripted situations and is often performed with no hidden plan or intention. An example may be answering the audience’s questions, smiling friendly at them, and building authority by emphasizing one’s competencies and references during the presentation. Strategic self-presentation are rather one-off, and tactical ones are repetitive (Wojciszke, 2002).
The study by Schwämmlein and Wodzicki (2021) verified how personal goals and the type of online community affect self-presentation strategies. Individualistic behaviors prevailed in bond-based online communities. On the other hand, in communities based on a shared identity, members used focusing strategies on common features. In both cases, participants actively built self-presentation through the prism of their personal goals. Online self-presentation helps gain social support and a sense of belonging (Pang, 2020).
The above research shows that speakers can present various strategies of self-presentation with which they can create the desired impression on listeners. Self-presentation can take place both live and be built during meetings and online speaking.
- Bronstein, J. (2013). Personal blogs as online presences on the internet: Exploring self‐presentation and self‐disclosure in blogging. Aslib Proceedings, 65(2), s. 161-181.
- Ellison, N., Heino, R. i Gibbs, J. (2006). Managing Impressions Online: Self-Presentation Processes in the Online Dating Environment. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 11(2), s. 415-441.
- Fullwood, C., Wesson, C., Chen-Wilson, J., Keep, M., Asbury, T. i Wilsdon, L. (2020). Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 23(11), s. 737-742.
- Leary M. (1999). Wywieranie wrażenia na innych. O sztuce autoprezentacji. Gdańskie Wydawnictwo Psychologiczne.
- Pang, H. (2020). Examining associations between university students’ mobile social media use, online self-presentation, social support and sense of belonging. Aslib Journal of Information Management, 72(3), s. 321-338.
- Parzoń, A. (2019). Autoprezentacja zawodowa internautów w portalu społecznościowym LinkedIn.com. E-mentor, 81(4), s. 71-78.
- Peng, K. (2020). To be attractive or to be authentic? How two competing motivations influence self-presentation in online dating. Internet Research, 30(4), s. 1143-1165.
- Pounders, K., Kowalczyk, C.M. i Stowers, K. (2016). Insight into the motivation of selfie postings: impression management and self-esteem. European Journal of Marketing, 50.
- Schwämmlein, E. i Wodzicki, K. (2012). What to Tell About Me? Self-Presentation in Online Communities. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 17(4), s. 387-407.
- Wojciszke, B. (2002). Psychologia Jakości Życia. (Tom 1). Wydawnictwo SWPS.
Hi. Welcome to my blog 🙂 I’m a psychologist and public speaking trainer. I work as a trainer and Head of Speakers at TEDxZurich. I also help, among others, lawyers, vocalists, actors, lecturers and business people in preparation for their speeches in front of hundreds of people in the audience, as well as in conducting small meetings or presentations. For many years I worked on controlling the stage fright that kept me awake at night. I was singing and dancing in a Cuban musical. I have always wondered how to manage the internal critic, not to worry about the opinion of others, and how to build a real sense of confidence on stage. Now I know the answer.
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