When I say the word, ‘president’ you probable think Donald Trump. Interestingly, although he’s in the job, I don’t think of him as presidential. When I think ‘President’ I think of people with impressive leadership qualities like Obama, JFK, Martin Luther King, Ghandi. These people were appointed to leadership roles AND they held themselves in a way that inspired confidence and belief.
In the corporate world we call this charisma or ‘executive presence’.
Many people ask me how they could be more charismatic as a presenter. How do you demonstrate executive presence?
Despite the fact that some people feel you’re either born with charisma or you’re not, I believe that it’s possible to implement certain elements into your presentations so that you increase your charisma and influence. And we can look to Obama and other past and present world leaders for some pointers. Take a look at each of these tips and you might like to think about how you could incorporate them into your presentations to develop or improve your charisma and influence.
1. Stimulate the visual and emotional.
We know that hope is something most audiences will respond well to in the business world. One way to give hope to your audience is to stir their emotions through the use of visual and emotional imagery in your words. In a 2004 speech, Obama stirred hope in his audience by saying: “It’s the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs, the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores, the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta, the hope of a millworker’s son who dares to defy the odds, the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too.
Alliteration is where you repeat the same consonant sound at the beginning of two or more words in close succession. An example is the well known, “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers …“. Alliteration is a device said to come from Old English and its ancestral languages. Both John F Kennedy and Martin Luther King were known to use alliteration well. At the 2004 Democratic National Convention keynote speech that brought Obama to prominence, he said, “Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or do we participate in a politics of hope?” The Wall Street Journal’s slogan is “The daily diary of the American dream”. And of course you will have heard that, “Prior preparation prevents poor performance”.
Anaphora is the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of every sentence. It is said to derive from the Greek phrase, “Carrying up or Back”. You may know of the famous speech by Winston Churchill where he said: “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills, we shall never surrender.”
Another famous example is Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed…. I have a dream that… I have a dream…” and he also says: “”Let freedom reign” over and over again to build emotion and commitment in his listeners.
Steve Jobs, in his Stamford Commencement speech in 2005 said, “You have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something your gut, destiny, life karma whatever….” You’ll also see the words, “the hope” have been repaid by Obama in the top example of this article. Most great speakers use anaphora!
Epistrophe is the repetition of a word or phrase at the end of every clause. For example, in Obama’s famous New Hampshire speech, he repeated the phrase “Yes, we can”. You may remember that these words echoed around the globe rallying supporters far and wide. “It was a creed written into the founding documents that declared the destiny of a nation: Yes, we can. It was whispered by slaves and abolitionists as they blazed a trail towards freedom through the darkest of nights: Yes, we can. It was sung by immigrants as they struck out for distant shores and pioneers who pushed westward against an unforgiving wilderness: Yes, we can.”
If you watch any old footage of Obama you’ll hear (in addition to the techniques mentioned above) he also had crisp clear articulation and powerful pausing between his concepts). He had a strong anchored posture. Obama didn’t fidget, he frequently leant forward when sitting and he always gave very direct, focused eye contact.
I encourage you to combine these four clever language patterns with dynamic vocal delivery and you’ll on your way to having increased charisma and executive presence.