Basic principles of nonverbal communication – 10

Principle X: Authenticity and charisma derive from becoming open, connected, passionate and listening with and to your audience.

Authenticity comes from aligning your content – the things you say – with your nonverbal communication – your body language.  Another way of saying it is that you have to align your emotions and your message.  In the end, it’s a matter of believing what you say and saying what you believe.  The alternative is to pretend, and most of us are not very good actors.  The few that have that skill are already living in Hollywood and making millions.

Charisma comes from developing this congruity of the verbal and the nonverbal through the four critical aspects of communicating with an audience of one or one thousand: openness, connection, passion, and listening. The last two steps especially contribute to presence and charisma.
Each of these is a separate discipline, and they all have to be layered, one on top of the other, in order to achieve true charisma.

Without openness from you, your audiences won’t allow you even to engage them. With openness, they will let you in. Without some effort at connection with your audiences, they won’t hear you over the roar of the other messages they are constantly receiving. With connection, you can cut through the information overload.

Without passion, you will fail to be remembered. With passion, you can make an impression. And without listening in this democratic age, audiences will reject you as ultimately not engaged with them. When you listen, you can achieve the kind of charisma and authenticity that will mark you as a rare communicator, the kind that audiences will walk through fire to support and for whom they will sacrifice their time and attention gladly.

In Trust Me: Four Steps to Authenticity and Charisma, I talk about the layering process, working through the four steps, in more detail.  At each step you need to find the emotional truth of what you’re presenting, focus on that, and work on bringing it to the fore.  To be able to open, for example, you have to believe that you have something worthwhile to share.  Done wrong, communication is a vicious circle where both parties close down, fail to connect, and no lasting message gets through.  Done right, communication is a virtuous circle of openness leading to connection leading to more openness to yet more connection, where passion is the currency and listening is the reward – in both directions.

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