If you read my previous article ‘5 reasons why gravitas is a good thing’, you’ll have realised the benefits of gravitas – how having it makes your life easier, helping you to get your message heard and increase the chances of action being taken! If you didn’t read it, you can do so here.
So this time, I want to explain a bit more about what gravitas is and importantly, how you can increase yours in everyday work situations such as meetings and presentations! After all, a New York think tank has declared that 67% of professional presence is due to gravitas.
So what is gravitas?
People often see if as indefinable but in fact Caroline Goyder provides a very simple definition of gravitas which helps us think about how we can increase ours.
Knowledge + passion + purpose (-anxiety) = Gravitas
Looking at it in this way will help you to break it down and think carefully about what you need to work on most.
Taking Knowledge first, this is how well you know your subject. It is difficult to have gravitas if you don’t know what you are talking about so being an expert is essential. Don’t be fearful though of not being able to answer a question, you can always say you’ll look into it and come back to the person but make sure you know about what you proactively say!
Passion is all about really believing in your area of expertise – not that you have it (although this is important) but that you really want to use it to help others, it’s the only real way to make sure you grab attention and keep it. People spot fake passion a mile off.
Purpose is about your values. Why do you do what you do? Communication needs to be practical and empathetic, not about telling people what to do. This combined with the above areas will help you to have more gravitas and get the result you are looking for!
Then of course there is the absence of anxiety, as this undermines your knowledge, passion and purpose.
The real trick of gravitas is to be seen as credible enough in your expert area but not to take yourself too seriously. Try to think of it as ‘being human’.
7 ways you can improve your gravitas
- Be aware of how you respond to questions/comments from your audience and prepare for those, especially where those responses aren’t naturally calm and controlled. Prepare to be honest when you don’t know!
- Consider your first impression, an entrance lacking in authority and characterised by nerves doesn’t build gravitas.
- Use body language to alternate between authority and approachability. These two interspersed as appropriate will create both credibility and connection with your audience.
- Clearly communicate your thoughts, remember what you are saying may be new material and thinking for the audience. Your choice of language and how you use your voice are pivotal to winning and keeping their attention.
- Remember to think! Pauses are not bad, when managed well they allow the audience time to think, as well as you.
- If you can’t tell how an audience is responding to what you are saying (interested, bored, annoyed, enthused), ask a question.
- Take the audience on a journey with you and most of all, listen thoroughly to their comments and questions.