Martin Luther King, Jr., Abraham Lincoln, and Socrates captivated their audiences with every word. You can too.
BY FAISAL HOQUE
Humans began speaking 50,000-100,000 years ago, and the “oral tradition” has molded societies for millennia.
That is a lot of time to perfect our influencing skills, but somehow all but the most accomplished still struggle at influencing the masses with their speech.
There are, of course, a fair few notable examples. Socrates, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King and Winston Churchill to name but a few.
They captivated their audiences with their every word. They had the most intangible of personality traits: charisma.
It didn’t matter how many people they were speaking to; their speeches were such that you felt that they were addressed to every single individual.
Their effortless style was underpinned by a finely-tuned (and barely perceptible) technique that allowed them to put their audience under their spell.
Their every movement acted in tandem with their words and every appearance was a multi-dimensional feast for the senses of the audience.
In my view, there are four aspects of every charismatic speaker. With lots of practice and a bit of initial self-confidence, any one of us can become one.
They create an emotional connection.
The perception of the audience is all that matters. It doesn’t matter how many times you have practiced the speech on front of the mirror or what your colleagues think of the message. Unless you create an emotional connection with your audience, the message will fall short.
The audience is naturally sympathetic — they are there to learn, to be inspired, or to join you on your journey. They are open to building a relationship with you, so it is vital that you connect with them from the moment you enter the room.
A warm smile is usually a good place to start!
The best speakers use the emotional range of their voice to take the audience on a journey with them. When they express joy, surprise, pride, concern, fear, hope or any other emotion, they seek to elicit the same emotional response from their listeners.
They perfect the mechanics of speech.
Speaking well is about pacing your words and ideas, being expressive with your tone at the right moments, and learning to breathe properly to have the power to deliver your message.
Allowing your audience to pause at the right moments in any speech is crucial. The best orators vary the pace of their speech and give the audience time to digest their ideas while anticipating what might be next.
Few people can listen and think at the same time. The power of truly impactful speaking comes from your silences.
The tone of your voice has subtleties you don’t even realize. Being able to control your voice and insert the right hints of emotion at the right times will ensure that your audience is in no doubt as to your message. When your body language is congruent with your speech, you will naturally find the right tone.
When you speak, you require a greater volume of air to deliver your message. How many times have you heard people trail off at the end of the sentence when they should actually be emphasizing their point? It is often the case that the most important words and concepts come at the end of sentences. Breathe deeply with your diaphragm and you will have the “puff” to deliver those lines with aplomb.
The speaker’s body matches his or her words.
When there is a disconnect between what someone is saying and how he or she is saying it, we automatically feel uncomfortable.
When positive language meets defensive body language, alarm bells start to ring — is the speaker being sincere? When passionate language is accompanied by a static pose, we wonder if the speaker is truly that excited.
When you speak to an audience, move when your language compels you to move. Use gestures to accentuate your language rather than draw attention from it. Give your audience hints as to how they will be feeling with your facial expressions, and they will soon get onto your wavelength.
Lastly, their content is truly compelling.
Telling personal and authentic stories allows the audience to relate to the speaker. The speaker is no longer a distant voice on a far away platform; he or she is sitting right next to you, sharing his or her unique journey.
There is something very special when you feel that someone is confiding in you — when an audience of hundreds feels that way, your story has won the crowd.
The best speakers give their messages a logical structure and build them around a central theme. Then they weave their stories around the basic foundations. They speak from a place of credibility, and the audience accepts their words because they believe in them.
[Image: Flickr/Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design]
Copyright (c) 2015 by Faisal Hoque. All rights reserved.
Original article @BusinessInsider.