Most of us have jobs involving presentations, which requires at least a small dose of public speaking.  I have had the privilege to attend an intensive workshop lead by a very charismatic speaker. The workshop is 4 days straight, 8 hours long per day, and though riveting, also exhausting.  I’ve noticed, however, that even with this rigorous pace, the workshop leader keeps everyone consistently engaged.  This made me ponder what makes a charismatic speaker, and how we can incorporate this into our own lives so that we can be more influential speakers.  If you ever need to find visual examples, I recommend almost anyone who has ever done a TED talk. Most of the speakers are riveting.

1) A charismatic speaker is aware of not only what she says, but how she says it.  She’s aware of the tone and volume of her voice.  She projects and speaks clearly, yet also varies the tone of her voice with different emotions, depending on the topic.  In other words, she is not monotonous.

2) A charismatic speaker is also aware of pace.  She doesn’t speak too fast or too slowly.  Usually, I find that when I’m nervous, I speak more quickly and must make a conscientious effort to slow down so people can absorb what I’m saying.

3) A charismatic speaker is aware of her non-verbals.  She smiles and  makes extended eye contact with different audience members.  She may also gesture with her hands if that’s her natural way of communicating.

4) A charismatic speaker knows her material.  I think most charismatic speakers must prepare extensively for their presentation, but they don’t make it look that way.  However, just because it doesn’t look that way doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of effort behind it.  As a wise person once said, “failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”

5) A charismatic speaker projects confidence and competence yet also humility.  She’s confident about what she’s saying yet open to feedback.

6) A charismatic speaker doesn’t go off on tangents.  I’ve noticed that speakers who keep people engaged use direct and simple language, and if they can explain it with brevity, they do.

7) A charismatic speaker uses metaphors and stories to make the presentation more palpable.  Metaphors and stories add wonderful color and detail.

8) A charismatic speaker uses humor in appropriate doses.  If a speaker isn’t funny, that doesn’t mean they can’t be engaging.  Humor isn’t a requirement for charisma, but it certainly can make the presentation very enjoyable.

9) A charismatic speaker summarizes her points.  This is especially relevant for presentations that involve more complicated ideas.  Summarizing is a great way to “zoom out” and remind the audience of the greater picture.