Executive Presence: Charisma
Charisma can be hard to define. The word comes from the Greek “charis” which means “grace” or “gift”. The word’s Greek root means “divine favor”. Charisma, this attribute of magnetism, has always been loved by those that watch a charismatic leader in action.
The word charisma is difficult to put into words. About half of your charisma is built in. The other half is learned. You know it when you see it, though. Leaders with charisma show three qualities, CONNECTING, CREDIBILITY and CONSISTENCY.
Leaders that possess these three qualities also know how to give killer presentations either virtually or in-person. Let’s look at the charisma tool, ‘Connecting: Presentations that Inspire’.
This tool will help bring the charisma and effectiveness in your presentation style to a whole new level.
The ability to effectively present to audiences, large or small, is a critical competency for today’s leaders. Charismatic leaders can skillfully ‘work a room’. They can also capture an audience when called upon to present to a group. Effectively engaging an audience is a balance of presentation skills and leadership behaviors that lean into the expectations of your audience. While there are identifiable skills in presenting, to truly capturing your audience, you need to have a balance of skills and behaviors.
Presentation behaviors create charisma. Presentation behaviors connect you to your audience, create credibility and let you consistently be an engaging presenter.
One of the first behaviors that must be harnessed is your ‘self-talk’ about the presentation. Take time to visualize how well it will go. See the audience engrossed in your presentation, taking notes and nodding their heads.
Secondly, make your message simple to understand, from the very beginning. Be clear. Use simple language. Tell people what you are going to tell them. State your overall message in three sentences or less.
Then, deliver the message. Finally, tell them what you just told them. Review three or four themes that summarize your message.
Whether you are a keynote speaker or presenting at your company review board, you must captivate your audience. Here are some tips on how to capture and enthuse your audience.
Preparation: is 80% of your success
o Make a checklist. What are your central themes?
o What messages do you want your audience to walk away with?
o Who is your audience? How much do they know about the subject? Are they authorities on the content?
o Practice your presentation with a coworker or trusted friend and have them record it on their phone. What do you see? If your style doesn’t match your message, you’ll lose people.
o Your first impression, those first 60 seconds, establish your credibility with the audience. What introduction will grab your audience? Is it a story, a quote, a photo or a cartoon?
o Be prepared to adjust your tone, the level of your content and your pace to meet the needs of your audience.
o Carry yourself in a confident manner. Appear organized and composed.
o Get there early to manage any unexpected obstacles.
o Prepare for questions. Think of the ten questions you will mostly likely get. Write and rehearse your answer to each of them.
Body Language: is 80% of your communication
o Move around the room or the stage every once in a while. It keeps your audience’s eyes moving. They will wonder where you might go next. Be purposeful with your moves.
o Modify your voice and tone. Speaking in a monotone isn’t engaging. Try speaking a bit faster – it causes the audience to recognize something is different. Then pause and slow down a bit. Often, speaking more softly causes the audience to focus on your words. A well-timed pause causes suspense about what may be coming next.
o Look just over your audience’s heads and it will often seem like you are looking straight into their eyes.
o When reading from a script, raise your eyes from time-to-time to connect with the audience.
Storytelling: is 80% of the fun
o Use stories to provide real world examples that emphasize your message. This often helps your audience understand and relate to your message, especially when it is technical or strictly factual.
o Develop a list of stories you can share in social and professional events. Memorize them. Make sure they are appropriate for the audience and the setting. Stories make your message more engaging and help connect them with you.
Story telling is a primary skill that many charismatic communicators use to share emotion along with information. Stories have the power to connect people to a common vision or purpose.
After each of your presentations, review the following questions:
o How was your energy level?
o Do you display a controlled passion for your topic and your content?
o Could your audience see that you enjoyed presenting the topic?
o Are there personal idiosyncrasies or habits that distracted from your message?
o Do you lose your cool during a hot debate? Was your behavior productive? What impact did your behavior have in engaging and influencing your audience?
o How well did you adjust your presentation style and content to your audience?
Although this is not a program about presentation skills, we found it mandatory to explain presentation skills as they relate to charisma. You will have opportunities to present. You must do it with style and flair.
Charismatically engaging your audience, large or small, is a balance of preparation, skills and an understanding of the leadership behaviors that engage your audience from your opening line to your closing summary.
Like what you just read? This is an excerpt from Mike Zorn & Brenda Corbett’s Executive Presence: Charisma workbook. You can purchase this workbook along with the rest of the Executive Presence series workbooks here.