Gaining Gravitas

Secrets to Upgrading Your Impact        

"People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision." -John C. Maxwell



 1.Big Body Space
Think about your natural body space. Imagine it's twice as great and then imagine it fills the whole room or street. Hold that thought and your body language will automatically increase your presence.

2.Don't Smile so much 
To build Rapport it is essential to smile. Smiling is one of the most recognizable happiness gestures in the entire western world. However, to build Gravitas, it is necessary to have a more serious, interested or contemplative expression.

3.Body Language
Keep your hand movements, your gesticulations to a minimum. Not waving around like a traffic cop. In the same vein don’t dart around the office and the corridors always in a hurry. One could think this is being busy and efficient but instead suggests out of control, bad organizational skills and stressed.  

4.Talk at a measured pace
Slow your rate of vocal delivery. Talk less, say less, say fewer words. Gushing suggests gullible; steady suggests wise. Talking too fast, and too much suggests a lack of authority as a consequence reducing credibility or could be perceived as covering up the truth.

5. People with presence tend to say relatively little
But what they say counts – focus on quality rather than quantity. Don’t raise your voice: if you have presence you don’t need to.

Open your mouth more and pronounce your words crisply and accurately.  This harps back to the upper classes that highly desired status when clear clean non-mumbled speech was an expected attribute of the landed gentry.

7.Speak with a deeper voice
Use a deeper vocal tone. Lower the pitch of your voice. They select news readers who have voices with more depth. It suggests authority, knowledge and seriousness.

8.Don’t talk over other people
Or, if you have to, wait until there is silence before you make your serious points

9.When you’ve made your point, stop talking even if there is silence
People with presence don’t worry if it takes other people time to understand them.

10.Avoid Derailing Vocal Habits
Monitor your speech mannerisms like “you know?” and “you know what I mean?” and “like,” and any other filler words or phrases (e.g., “…at the end of the day,” and “to be honest,” etc.) that may sound like nervous habits or ticks.

11.Head Up
Keep your chin up, your face angle lifted slightly towards the ceiling. It’s been said some politicians “look down there noses” at the unwashed masses. The direct opposite to the “chin on the chest” suggesting someone who is not very sure of themselves.

12.Take Notes
This suggests that you are sifting the gems or having brilliant thoughts, furiously scribbling will encourage others to see you simply as the note-taker.

13.Be poised/attitude
Gravitas requires remaining calm and finding within yourself the assurance that you own your seat at the table without having to prove it by being the smartest guy in the room, dominating air time, or needing to be right. It’s equanimity even when things heat up. 

14.Don’t expect to be liked
Gravitas is for gaining respect; if it’s love you want try building rapport (which requires the opposite of many of these techniques).

When gravitas is lacking, people know it, and when it’s present, they take notice:
"She can really hold a room.”

"His ideas are always welcomed by the board, even when there’s debate or disagreement.”
"When she speaks, people sit up and take notice.”

When done right, gravitas is not a mask—it’s authentically adding value to the discussion while minding and maintaining important relationships.

© Peter Bishop

April 2014.