Speak for Yourself

Claire Duffy's blog about public speaking and communication (in real life). Speak well, do well!

Maximise your magnetism

Magnetism, presence, and their cousin charisma, are vaguely defined  qualities which enable us to command attention, and to influence others. People who have them attract a long list of descriptors:  genuine, confident, calm, assertive, dominant, authentic, and focussed. You might think they have force of character, or gravitas, enthusiasm, passion, conviction, dynamism  … any of the  personality traits which somehow excite, motivate, engage and inspire others. They also usually  have superb communication skills.

Perhaps because of these superb skills, these people get noticed, listened to, respected, and followed.

Presence and charisma are  gold if you’re in  the leadership business.

Once these qualities were regarded pretty much as inborn or innate: ‘you can’t buy it you can’t make it and you sure can’t fake it’,  but research just published in the Harvard Business Review says not.

Charisma is not all innate; it’s a learnable skill or, rather, a set of skills that have been practiced since antiquity. Our research with managers in the laboratory and in the field indicates that anyone trained in what we call “charismatic leadership tactics” (CLTs) can become more influential, trustworthy, and “leaderlike” in the eyes of others….

In our research, we have identified a dozen key CLTs. Some of them you may recognize as long-standing techniques of oratory. Nine of them are verbal: metaphors, similes, and analogies; stories and anecdotes; contrasts; rhetorical questions; three-part lists; expressions of moral conviction; reflections of the group’s sentiments; the setting of high goals; and conveying confidence that they can be achieved. Three tactics are nonverbal: animated voice, facial expressions, and gestures.

So that’s (yet another) win for Aristotle, whose On Rhetoric   has been  the basic text  for the art of persuasion for 2300 years.

Others have attempted to model Charisma. Nikki Owen says ‘Charismatic people possess a potent blend of attractiveness and presence that commands attention with an irresistible magnetic force’ and analyzes the traits as:

1. High Self-Esteem – self-confidence, inner-calm, self-reliance, independence.

2. A Driving Force – purpose, personal values, principles.

3. Sensory Awareness – empathy, emotional intelligence (EQ)

4. A Vision – belief, positive attitude.

5. High Energy – passion, enthusiasm, commitment, determination.

Another way of looking at charisma is derived from theatre skills. British voice coach Patsy Rodenberg describes three kinds of charisma. ‘First circle’ people are introverted or self-absorbed, and when they are talking to others they focus their energy inward. They don’t seem interesting or interested; they’re hard to reach. ‘Third circle’ people are BIG, often bombastic and they focus their energy outward in order to dominate. They take up loads of space and airtime. ‘Second circle’ people have the right balance between self-awareness and presence for others, and this is where you want to be.

If you want to develop a stronger presence here are some tips to start you off:

Look confident by adopting confident body language, having a positive attitude, and behaving as an equal, never superior or subservient to others.

Be genuine. People are very easily able to detect it when you are insincere.

Speak with conviction. This includes the way you say things, your facial expressions, voice and body language.

Treat people as they want to be treated. Listen actively and make others feel special. Positive comments are vital tools. There is no limit to how much appreciation and praise a person can take!


One comment on “Maximise your magnetism

  1. Robert Nyika

    Thank you Claire for unlocking the key ingredients of Charisma .It has been quite an elusive, intangible vital something that you see in others and cant quite touch it.
    The tips you have given will help in developing this powerhouse and we should all thank you for this generosity.
    Warmly,Robert Nyika,Nairobi,Kenya.

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This entry was posted on 02/08/2012 by in Audience connection, Confidence for Speakers, Public speaking.

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