Have you ever heard a presentation
and later realized how attracted you were to the presenter? No, not that
kind of attraction. Rather, you felt connected and uplifted while you were listening.
You came away feeling happier. The speaker was so eloquent that you were touched
in some way. Even if the presentation was about selling magazines!
That quality you experienced
is called charisma. Webster defines charisma as "that special spiritual power
or personal quality that gives an individual influence or authority over large
numbers of people." A charismatic speaker leaves an impression on the audience,
large or small, that makes them want to come back for more. It's just what you
want if you are trying to influence an audience.
We associate charisma with
preachers, like Billy Graham, or old-time politicians, such as Winston Churchill.
Could you become a charismatic speaker? The answer is yes! By breaking down
charisma into its 12 individual qualities (listed here in no particular order),
you can attain each quality with a little time and practice.
Quality 1: Charismatic
speakers are self-confident and assured. They don't appear nervous or ill at
There are two ways to approach this quality--from the outside and the inside.
From the outside, you can gain self-confidence by gaining more experience speaking.
Joining Toastmaster's International is a good way to do this, aside from the
speaking experience you gain in your regular employment. In addition, practice
each presentation many, many times, until you know it cold. You won't be as
nervous if you are well prepared. Finally, as much as possible, get to know
your audience in advance, as people. Even if you greet an audience at the door
or start a small group meeting with a few pleasantries, you will find yourself
feeling more comfortable.
From the inside, there are
a number of techniques to lessen nervousness and anxiety. I recommend Transcendental
Meditation (R) as a scientifically verified and well-known stress reducer, which
will help you in your other activities as well. If that is not immediately possible,
close your eyes to relax and center yourself for a few minutes before the presentation.
A few stretches can also help reduce any tension. Stretch your mouth, too!
Quality 2: Charismatic
speakers seem to be enjoying themselves; they are playful, humorous, and happy.
Step back and think about the funny side of your presentation. Don't take it
so seriously; instead, find the lighter side. Try adding some mild humor to
your presentation (in good taste, of course). Slightly self-deprecating humor
is okay, too. It's good to show that you can laugh at yourself. For example,
in a larger audience you can ask, "How many of you really want to be here this
morning?" This works best if it's a beautiful day outside. If only a few people
raise their hands, you can say, "I see I have my work cut out for me." If most
people raise their hands, you can say, "And I thought this was going to be difficult!"
Quality 3: Charismatic
speakers are lively & energetic.
Quiet and dull never sold anything. You need to wake up your audience. The basic
for energy, of course, is enough rest. So get a good night's sleep the night
before. If you've traveled the same day, find a few minutes to close your eyes
and rest. When you start to speak, move your hands and look directly at the
person or people you're talking to. If you're standing, move about (without
pacing). Let your voice express your convictions--don't use a monotone. Later
in this article, I explain how to record yourself during practice. Listen to
your recorded voice and be sure there are variations in pitch, tone, and volume.
Quality 4: Charismatic
speakers are knowledgeable about their subject.
This quality is a cinch. Do lots of research and learn as much as you can about
your subject. What approach do your competitors take? Seeing the other side
of an issue helps you understand your topic better. What is the history of your
product or service? Gaining a broader background allows you to speak with more
Quality 5: Charismatic
speakers look good, they have a stage presence.
I'm not suggesting that you do something about the size of your nose. The good
appearance that you associate with a charismatic speaker is something different
and has inner and outer qualities. From the outside, dress your best, always
in conservative, modest clothing. Take the time and spend the money necessary
so that your hair is perfect and shoes are polished. From the inside, take the
time to lessen any negative feelings you may have about the upcoming encounter.
List some positive aspects and focus on those. Negative emotions show up in
your facial expressions and can actually make you look unattractive.
Quality 6: Charismatic
speakers speak without stumbling, using full sentences and correct grammar,
without "ers" and "uhs."
In other words, they are good speakers. You can become a good speaker, as well.
Joining Toastmasters International, as mentioned earlier, is one way to start.
One of the best techniques is to record yourself as you practice. Run through
your entire talk. If you can videotape yourself, great, but even a plain old
tape recorder is a great help. Now, sit back and listen to yourself several
times. Take notes as you go. I guarantee that you'll find plenty to correct.
So go back and work on your delivery and try again. With practice, your speaking
will become smooth and fluid.
Quality 7: Charismatic
speakers have an opinion about their subject. They care about it. You can sense
their emotion, enthusiasm, and conviction.
You could even say they are passionate about what they are saying. Do you have
an opinion about your product or service? How strongly do you feel about it?
So, you find it hard to have conviction about the paper you sell or the customer
service training you offer? What good does it bring to people? For example,
paper, depending on the type, brings knowledge to people, contributes to good
health, or adds to our quality of life. Similarly, think deeply about what you
do and its relationship to the human endeavor.
Quality 8: Charismatic
speakers relate their topic to the broader scheme of things, they are expansive,
inspiring, and uplifting.
Think about the place your product or service has in the entire economy of the
world. How does it contribute to what is important in life? As mentioned earlier,
learn about the history of your field. Depending on what you do, you may even
be able to go back a few thousand years. If you sell paper, for example, do
you know where and when it was invented and what effect it had on civilization?
(Of course, it depends
on which kind of paper you are selling. Bathroom tissue was introduced in 1880
by the British Perforated Paper Company. Writing paper was officially invented
by T'sai Lun at the court of the Chinese emperor in 105 A.D. However, new evidence
shows that paper was being made as early as 200 B.C. using chopped up fishing
nets. For about 500 years, papermaking was confined to China, but spread to
Japan in 610 A.D, Egypt in 800 A.D and Europe in the 10th century. In ancient
Egypt, an early form of paper known as papyrus was used. Paper allowed governments
to record laws and businesses to record agreements. Paper was also widely used
to write down religious scriptures. Thus, it was extremely important for the
development of our civilization.)
Think about what you contribute
to life. What good do you do? When you have answered these questions, add some
of the answers to your presentation. Don't go overboard, but a certain amount
of inspiration is a powerful selling tool. If your audience leaves uplifted,
they will remember that feeling long after they remember some of the finer points
Quality 9: Charismatic
speakers create a strong rapport with their audience, they connect.
Part of that riveting quality of a charismatic speaker comes from the relationship
created with the audience. Part of that relationship is created by what you
say. But most of it is created with your eyes, motions, and emotions. Eye contact
is an absolute must.
For a large audience, never
start or end with the lights out so that you have time to establish eye contact.
Move around and use your hands. A great technique is to actually move into the
audience periodically. Don't hide behind a podium or table.
With a smaller audience,
even an audience of one, be careful not to look down throughout your presentation.
Meet your prospect's gaze from time to time. Use your hands, lean forward; come
close (but not uncomfortably close).
Quality 10: Charismatic
speakers are positive in outlook, cheerful, and cooperative.
Most people don't want to hear negativity. They want to hear solutions. Even
when you point out how bad their current situation is and how much they need
your solution, don't dwell on the negative. Emphasize the positive. Keep a cheerful
outlook. When your prospects bring up objections or questions, answer in a spirit
of cooperation and appreciation for their point of view. This approach puts
you above the fray. At the end of your talk, you want your audience to feel
encouraged and positive about what they heard.
Quality 11: Charismatic
speakers are organized; their points are clearly connected and logically follow
one another, with an overview at the beginning and a conclusion at the end.
They are precise and complete.
You can know your subject cold and still present it in a disorganized, haphazard
way. To make a compelling argument, you need to make sense. Start with a skeleton
outline. Here's an old standard for a presentation:
- Attention getting opening
- What the audience needs
- How you can provide
what the customer needs (the solution)
- Action steps the customer
can take to buy
- Summary conclusion
Now flesh out the outline.
Make sure each part is also organized. Think about the reasoning of each part
and revise as necessary. Design your close so that the logic follows inescapably
and inexorably from your main points.
Quality 12: Charismatic
speakers (genuine ones) are honest, well mannered, patient, fair, and responsible.
You can probably think of more adjectives. These qualities portray a person's
character and moral fiber. Your customers need to feel comfortable doing business
with you, that you are a person they can trust. You don't want the question,
"Would you buy a used car from this man?" to apply to you. Your talk should
reflect these qualities. For example, don't put down your competition (be fair).
Don't interrupt your audience (be patient). Listen carefully to questions before
answering and never use objectionable language or make negative references to
others (be well-mannered). If you agree to get more information or follow up,
do so (be responsible).
By developing these 12 qualities,
you too can become a charismatic speaker. You can be that person that audiences
feel attracted to and connected with, whose eloquence leaves people uplifted
and enlivened. Work at it and you will succeed!