Tried and True Tips to Command Attention
Do you know someone that enters a room with flair? They don’t just slide in…but they command a certain amount of attention and recognition. People will glance at this newcomer as they walk by. If they have not been introduced, chances are they soon will be. (Being drop dead gorgeous is not the prerequisite to create this phenomenon, by the way.)
On a stage, on TV, in networking events or a small dinner party, being in control of your space is the platform from which you can send out clear and highly effective messages. It is the very foundation that can support any conversation or call to action and command respect from those around you.
Without this foundation your message is like a house built on sand; it may look pretty, but might not be trusted all that quickly.
So, how to you achieve and better yet, maintain this owning of your space? There are oh so many layers to this answer and many situations that can threaten your ownership as well… each of them could be a course in itself. For instance: How do you handle an aggressive reporter during an interview? How do you handle audience members that are in private conversation without giving up an ounce of your authority? So many unexpected circumstances and interruptions can knock a person off their foundation, but some basic principles will carry the weight of the burden, even in the challenging times. Often the best, established speakers go back every once in a while and examine how thoroughly they are using these principles.
Today, I’ll share three of these principles with you.
Think of these as the mortar that holds the bricks together in your foundation!
- Shoulders back and weight back. Open yourself up physically to receive from the audience. This is necessary to build that relationship that will help you to connect. The exchange of energy is best felt when the heart area is open literally as well as figuratively! So, pull those should blades together and stand strong. Part of the strong stance is putting that weight back; think of a fighter’s stance, or dancer’s first position, with one foot slightly angled in front of the other, body weight on the back foot. This is a great way to stay rooted (and look sexy, too!).
- Gesture to the Fullest. If you use your hands a lot to speak, by all means, don’t stop! (All my Italian friends just sighed with relief!) But, work on using those gestures to emphasize your message and not distract from it. Slower, deliberate movements are usually easier to watch than multiple quick movements that may look fidgety. When you gesture, gesture with full movements, open those arms when you can. Try some big gestures on camera if you think you might look silly. I’ll bet you’ll be surprised at how large motions will usually look pretty darn good! A good book to reference is Winning Body Language by Mark Bowden.
- Work your inflection and volume. Inflection is not only great to emphasize your points, but also to keep the brains of your audience stimulated, literally! Studies have shown that differentiation in vocal tone actually help us learn. Volume changes and pauses, too, will help keep the synapses firing. When pauses are used correctly, the person to whom we are speaking fills in the blank with what you just said, so, in essence, they process it twice. Our current US President used pauses quite often for emphasis.
Even the seasoned communicators can falter on occasion by neglecting the basic principles. We have all heard that 80% of all communication is, in fact, not what we say, but how we say it. It never hurts to review ourselves on video and evaluate!
These principles are the first steps to owning the room before you even step on the stage!