Charisma is a valuable asset in certain roles, especially for leaders, managers or anyone who has to speak in front of an audience and convince or interest them. However, it remains a rather subjective concept when it comes to defining it, even if it is certain that body language becomes a valuable aid to being charismatic. So how can you use non-verbal communication to increase your charisma?
What is charisma?
Charisma is a difficult quality to define because it is rather vague, even subjective. In general, we notice a charismatic person immediately because he or she has a certain presence that outshines others. He or she has the support of everyone and even inspires enthusiasm in those who listen to him or her.
But how does charisma manifest itself? There are two types of charisma: firstly, intellectual charisma, which indicates a lively mind, quick to find arguments or easy to use humour; and secondly, physical charisma, which shows great ease and a certain confidence in non-verbal communication.
These two types of charisma are closely related because they are interdependent. Generally speaking, both are necessary to be truly charismatic and to capture the attention of the audience. Moreover, an exciting and subtle speech may have no impact if the words spoken betray a fragility and lack of conviction.
Take up space
The way you move, the way you occupy space, the distance you put between yourself and your audience are three important factors to consider if you want to keep their attention. You need to physically involve your audience in your speech if you really want to make a lasting impression.
Our posture is crucial when we have the opportunity to speak in front of many people. Our movements, our distance from the audience and the way we look at our audience will all be scrutinised by those we are trying to engage.
Occupy the space by moving in a measured way: avoid sitting in your chair and feel free to move around the room, avoiding impulsive and stressful back and forth movements. Instead, pace your words: this will give them dynamism and also give rhythm to your breathing.
Think about varying your distance from the audience to involve them more in what you are saying: stay between 1 and 5 metres away from your audience. This will make it easier to provoke exchanges, especially with shy people. Finally, don’t forget to look at everyone in the room and scan the audience with your eyes.
Let your body express itself
The way your body expresses itself may or may not contribute to the credibility of what you say. However, it is important to strike a balance between appropriate body language and the two extremes of not gesturing at all or gesturing too much. Parasitic or forced gestures should be avoided. They are there to “compensate” for nervousness. Be sure that they say more than words that you are uncomfortable.
The most appropriate posture is an upright but not strained position, with your feet firmly on the floor, slightly apart and without ever turning your back to your audience. It is also important to stay focused by keeping your head upright and looking forward. Remember to keep your body language as open as possible: your whole body should be involved in the exchange (avoid hands in pockets).
Avoid touching your face or head too much (self-touching): stroking your hair, scratching your nose are all reassuring gestures to compensate for a lack of ease, confidence or conviction in your own words. Again, use your gestures to punctuate your words and make them easier to remember (make a 3 with your fingers to list 3 ideas).
In conclusion, a charismatic person knows how to find the balance between rigidity and excessive mobility, whether in their general posture or their arm movements. Gestures are linked to our state of mind: they mark and punctuate the important moments of a speech, adding a real visual dimension to the words spoken. All these non-verbal codes are important because they facilitate human interactions to communicate better with others.
The secrets of body language
Mistakes in recruitment, management and negotiation are costly. On a daily basis, your colleagues, managers, peers and leaders are also trying to decipher your intentions and emotions through your verbal and non-verbal cues. Know how you are perceived by your professional environment, whether it is at the first meeting or every time you arrive in a colleague’s office.
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