Charisma is what we usually attribute to certain actors or politicians, who seem able to magnetize us from simply speaking. A charismatic person seems to intuitively draw people to like them – but there is a catch to this. After all, you have to remind yourself that your task as a speaker is to get your message across. How many times have you actually heard a charismatic speaker without really being able to remember the important takeaways?
If you really want to become a good and meaningful speaker, what you are actually looking for is presence. Presence is being able to connect with your audience and really deliver the valuable message that the people listening to you are looking for. This is mostly achieved by becoming a good listener and knowing which problem your audience wants to solve.
Charisma is centered around the speaker, while presence is centered around the audience. A person with a good presence knows how to prepare a talk in a way that answers the questions, doubts or problems of the audience. As a speaker, this gives you the advantage of being able to connect directly to the people in the room.
So, how do you cultivate presence the next time you are invited to speak?
Prepare with presence: Know who your audience will be, and prepare for what they really need from you. Build your presentation around the needs of the audience.
Begin with presence: Look directly at your audience and address them. Beginning with a “you” statement can be really effective e.g. “each of you in this room…”
Practice and speak with presence: Practice addressing and directing your message towards the audience, even if your audience is imaginary! Direct your energy outwards rather than inwards.
Remind yourself who you are helping: Always remember to focus on who you are trying to help – that is your audience. The people around you should always be at the center of your message.