Have you ever met someone who captured your immediate attention?

Did you notice how engaging they were as a conversationalist? How quickly did you feel personally connected with them and inspired? This is the power of charisma.

Why should charisma matter today?  Video conferencing is not the latest trend. It is now the present and the future.  How you project yourself will determine your success at inspiring and persuading others to follow you.  Wherever you are in your career, you will have a competitive edge if you invest in enhancing your on-camera screen presence.  Simply put, it’s showcasing three core charismatic qualities – warmth, power, and presence.

Here are some quick myths to debunk:

Myth #1: You are either born with charisma or not.

False. Everyone possesses charisma. As Michael Lipkin, founder of the Environics Research Group, describes, “Charisma is the Greek word for gift, which is your personal magic that compels people to give you their attention and admiration”.

Myth #2: Charisma is a superficial trait that requires you to be outgoing or even change your personality.

False. On the contrary, charisma is your charm in combination with learnable skills.  It does not mean changing your personality.  It’s more about bringing out your personality, whether you are an introvert, ambivert, or extrovert. It’s how you create a memorable experience for those you work with.

This article will identify key strategies for creating your own personal magnetism to enhance your influence.  Whether you are presenting to an executive team or facilitating a meeting, charisma requires self-awareness, self-discipline, and the desire to bring out your best authentic self. Let’s begin the journey!

 

DEMONSTRATE A WARM DEMEANOR

Take responsibility for making people comfortable

Make your audience feel liked, respected, and protected. This leads to personal attraction.

  • Practice speaking with a warm smile. This impacts on others’ desires to get to know you better.  Make sure that the smile reaches your eyes for authenticity.
  • Make people feel important, regardless of their rank. Publicly validate their ideas as valuable and insightful. Empathize with their feelings.
  • Focus on asking curious questions that encourage people to be more transparent.
  • Listen, not with the intent to reply, but more to understand. Let people finish their sentences before you comment.
  • The lower your voice, the more resonant and pleasing. Use shorter sentences so that you can end on a deeper note.
  • Speak slower and practice pausing when presenting to culturally diverse audiences.

 

SHOWCASE YOUR POWER

Hook your audience from the start

People do not pay attention if they are bored. Imagine that you only have 60 seconds to grab their attention.

  • Take command of your message. To grab the attention of your listeners, tell the purpose of your content and emphasize “why” it is important to them.
  • Use the word “because” frequently for explaining your perspective and getting buy-in.
  • Verbalize the end result. Begin with the ending. For example, you might say: “As a result, the benefit to our customers would be…positioning you as their trusted advisor”.
  • Describe the situation by addressing primary issues, challenges, opportunities, etc.
  • Explain in three short bullets how the content will flow and who will be presenting.
  • Reiterate key take-away points. Be compelling by saying: “If you take one point away, I’d like you to imagine what could be possible if…”

Master the Art of Storytelling

People live through your stories if they are interesting. They bring out your personality and move you from a presenter to an entertainer.

  • Establish your credibility by making your audience identify and align with you. Creating commonality builds an immediate connection.
  • Share personal stories that make your listeners feel a closer connection to you. Showing vulnerability builds trust.
  • Make the characters in the story real. Where possible, make your customers and/or colleagues the heroes in your story.
  • Choose people who are similar to the people in the meeting to make them more relatable and entertaining.
  • Capitalize on your charm by making your voice conversational and animated. Imagine that you are reading a bedtime story to a child.
  • Where possible, select stories and examples over numbers and statistics as they are easier to remember.
  • Our brain thinks in pictures so use vivid vocabulary, metaphors and analogies instead of PowerPoint.
  • Use “you” as often as possible to make the content feel personalized to the listeners.

 

AMPLIFY YOUR SCREEN PRESENCE

Take control of how others experience you 

Rehearse before your meeting begins and record. Then pay close attention to how you look when you are speaking.

Set the Stage:

  • Declutter your workspace from distractions.
  • To create the appearance of having a one-on-one conversation, look at the camera at eye level and move the other attendee screens right below your camera, if possible. In this way, you can make more direct eye contact with the other attendees.
  • Choose either natural lighting or artificial lighting for a fresh complexion. Avoid harsh lighting that shines directly on top of your head, too close to your face or from behind your head.
  • Purchase a ring light which provides flattering and even light, reducing harsh shadows.
  • Make sure you are framed in the center of your screen, but not so far back that you look removed from the meeting.
  • Invest in a clip-on microphone or non-obtrusive headset so that you can gesture naturally, which improves vocal inflection and demonstrates passion.
  • If you choose a virtual background, ask yourself if it is making the right statement for how you want to be perceived. Keep the background neutral if you are unsure.
  • Using a virtual background will require you to be very still because of the digital halo that takes place if you shift in your chair.

Create a charismatic image:

  • You are still in a professional space when you join a virtual meeting. Plan your wardrobe depending on the formality of the meeting.
  • Dress for the respect you wish to receive. Dress with respect for the audience you will engaging.
  • Your face should take up no more than one third of the screen. Should your face look shiny, use blotting paper, tissue or cover up powder.
  • Choose color in your wardrobe that compliments your skin tone. Never choose color that blends into your background as you will look invisible.
  • Avoid bright yellows and oranges as they can be tiresome to look at.
  • Don’t forget about grooming which is an extension of your screen presence.
  • Your outfit can be casual as long as your choice of clothing and grooming look professional. First impressions matter.
  • Avoid tight patterns like checks, stripes and geometric designs as they jump around, are distracting, and can become over-exaggerated.
  • Keep your hands away from your face, hair, or beard. Aside from being distracting, it might show that you are more interested in how you look on camera than paying attention.

Manage your body language cues:

  • Face the camera directly to show that you are interested. Even a quarter turn away may signal a lack of interest.
  • To demonstrate empathy, lean slightly forward when someone is speaking, nodding slightly in agreement.
  • Be intentional with your eye contact. If asked a question, begin and end looking at the camera as if you are speaking directly to the person who asked the question. Then look at others, delivering one thought to each person on the screen.
  • Avoid crossing your arms, as it may be interpreted by many cultures as a closed sign of resistance or disapproval.
  • Sit tall with shoulders slightly back to project confidence and competence.
  • Place both feet flat on the floor, planted parallel to your shoulders, to balance your posture, rather than crossing one leg over the other, which tilts your body.
  • Keep your movements small, slow, and within the computer screen to demonstrate that you are relaxed and collected. Sweeping gestures will be distracting and indicate nervousness.

Always remember, life is not a dress rehearsal.  It’s about navigating a successful journey that begins when you allow your charismatic gifts – warmth, power, and presence to shine.

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