Charisma from the Feet Up:
How to Stand with Confidence
By Adele Landauer
Jim tried to be
all things to all people. He was, after all, a company
representative for a large company. He was an ambassador for their
product, an information resource, a networker, a promoter of values,
and a communicator of the company’s message and ideals. During any given week,
he would find himself in front of customers, board members, the
press, office staff, or factory workers. Jim felt that the best way
to connect to his audience was to present himself in a way which he
felt was most appropriate to them. So during worksite visits, he was
crude and one of the boys. When he met with staff, he was overly
sympathetic to the demands placed on them by upper management. With
board members, he presented himself as fierce and cutthroat while
with the press he portrayed himself as a man sensitive to the
environment and world politics.
Despite all his hard work, despite all his attempts to
emulate and appease his audience, Jim continually failed. His
message was simply not getting through. His work became
unsatisfactory. What could he be doing wrong? Wasn’t he giving the
audience what they wanted? It couldn’t have been him, he thought. It
must be the content. Yet his coworker Anne was working with the same
content and experiencing success. She was doing what he couldn’t,
namely making a connection with her audience, inspiring them, and
getting positive results.
He watched Anne present in front of the board, then at a
staff meeting, in front of a union, and finally for the press. The
content at each was of course different. The level of formality was
as well. But at each event, her presence was strong and her body
language convincing. She was natural and authentic. She was
charismatic. And Jim thought he could never be that. Charisma—also
known as presence—is something that you are either born with it or
your not, he thought. There is no way that he could make such a
strong connection or inspire people as she had. He bemoaned this to
her over coffee one afternoon. She told him that she was not born
with it but learned how to let her natural charisma come through.
Anne told Jim to think of musical notes. They can be read and
understood, but until they are played, they do not have the power to
touch an audience. The notes need an instrument. Content works the
same way. Your words are like the notes. They can be heard or read
and then understood, but they cannot touch an audience without an
instrument. And that instrument is you—your body and your voice.
Your charisma. Just as a musician needs to be trained to learn how
to play, so does a presenter or speaker. So how can Jim learn how to
play? How can he learn to be charismatic?
Decide how you want
to appear before your presentation begins.
How would you like to appear during a presentation? Self-confident,
knowledgeable, friendly, empathetic, etc. What about arrogant? Or
tired, bored, insecure, incompetent, or dishonest? Nobody wants to
appear that way, yet how many people come off that way? Many. But
why? Is it what they say? Sometimes it is, but it is more the
impression they make. It’s how they act. As Mom would say, “It’s not
what you say but how you say it.” But remember: you control your
appearance. Think of an actor. He is in character before he steps on
stage. And long before he utters a line, the audience knows who he
is. It is the way he walks. The way he carries himself. It is not
the crown that makes the king, but the way he holds his head. It is
not the rags that make the pauper, but the way he moves across the
stage. Long before you speak, transmit the message you want to send
Let your body
support your message.
A strong posture
means strong content. You will appear more confident which in turn
strengthens what you say. Learn how to stand properly. Imagine roots
growing from your feet and connecting you to the middle of the
earth. From your stomach there is a stick going straight down to
your feet like a third leg. The stick goes up as well connecting you
to the sky. Bring your spine in alignment with it. Relax your chest
and breathe easy. Your stance is strong and so is your presence. You
are connected with earth and sky and now with the people around you.
Come across as in
control and capable.
While you feel rooted to the center of the earth, do not become
stiff like a tree. Find a comfortable position where you can move
naturally. Do not bob or fidget back and forth.
Find your center.
you appear confident and knowledgeable when all you feel is
tiredness and stress? By learning how to locate and go to your
center. To find your center, imagine that you have to hold a nut
with your butt checks (Nut in the Butt Technique). Your pelvis
suddenly stabilizes. Now pull back your shoulders and relax your
chest. Your body is now centered. From here, you can access your
energy and power. Practice this to commit it to muscle memory and to
be able to move into your center at a moment’s notice.
Let your body speak
but in a relaxed manner.
should come from your center and then return there or be replaced by
an appropriate, natural movement.
end, it is not about being all things to all people but about
allowing your natural self to come through. Your natural presence is
charisma. By presenting yourself in a confident and natural way, you
are able to create connections. When people can trust you, they can
trust your content. When you hide who you are, you obscure not only
yourself but your content.
These techniques are the start. With them, Jim was able to
present himself more naturally and confidently. By having more
confidence, he was able to show more and more of his natural self.
The same is true for you. When you are present, you are charismatic
and your light can shine. Your true being comes through. You will be
connected with the people and world around you making your content
stronger and the music more beautiful.
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