Authority, or “gravitas” as some people call it, is a desirable yet nebulous characteristic that is closely related to charisma. We all recognise it, but are hard put, to identify what it is that a person says or does, that creates it.
Some people undoubtedly have more natural authority than others but I believe that everyone can learn some simple techniques to “turn it on” at will.
Having studied many different presenters I have identified 5 key cues that project a perception of authority and credibility.
- Eye contact – Practice making and holding eye contact for up to 5 seconds
- Maximising personal space through stance – Develop an open upright, relaxed stance
- Head stillness when speaking – High authority figures keep their head still when they speak (helps with eye contact too)
- Being comfortable and easy with using pauses of varying lengths. If silence is golden then pauses are “nuggets of gold” to quote my friend Marian Way
- Eliminating face and hair touching – These mannerisms lower your perceived status so learn to eliminate them.
Don’t take my word for it though, test out this by experimenting with these techniques yourself, and observe other speakers whom you consider to have high credibility.
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