Gravitas: How to Get Your Message Across with Confidence & Assertiveness

Ever wondered how some people are capable of getting their voice heard and others are not noticed? What is it about those who have the whole world eating out of the palm of their hand when they open their mouths? Is it the tone of their voice? Is it the way they carry themselves? Are they born with it, or was it developed through years of practice? The answer: it’s a blend of all those things.

It’s true that some people are born performers, blessed with a natural ability to communicate with confidence and flair. But I believe that everyone has the potential to increase their presence and everyone can learn how to speak with gravitas.

So, what’s the difference in speaking with and without gravitas? Let’s start with the definition. The word is translated as weight, seriousness, solemnity, dignity and importance. People with gravitas command respect because they’ve taken the time to think about what they’re going to say and communicate their thoughts in a measured, calm and logical way. As well as sharing the facts, they’ve found a way to harness their emotions so that they can inspire their audiences and can share a call to action that everyone wants to follow.

By contrast, there are many aspects can negatively affect a person’s level of gravitas and assertiveness when communicating, for example:

  • When giving a speech or presentation, not paying attention to the audience and what they’re interested in or would like to hear about. As a result, they might speak too much, waffle on, be irrelevant or even sound patronising.
  • Because they haven’t sufficiently prepared, their confidence will be lacking which could lead to feelings of inadequacy or even imposter syndrome, where the sufferer believes they have no right to speak or be heard.
  • Another facet that can stop someone from speaking with gravitas is not learning the techniques, which we’ll get into a little later.

The good news is, everyone is capable of developing gravitas:

You might be asking yourself the question, ‘am I capable of speaking with gravitas?’. The answer is yes, you most definitely are.

If you would like to enhance your ability to communicate with gravitas, there are six personal qualities you can develop  based on my Gravitas methodology which I explore further in my book, Leading with Gravitas. These are:

  • Self-awareness
  • Expertise
  • Authenticity
  • Presence
  • Connection
  • Projection

Out of the six, the most important when it comes to getting your voice heard are presence, connection and projection. These are the fundamental attributes in gaining an audience’s attention and trust.

Presence can be summed up as an energy that emanates from a person through their physical appearance, body language and voice. Connection is an affinity with people and the art of creating rapport with any audience. Projection is the ability to ‘switch on’ your best self, expressing yourself confidently to even larger audiences.

Key tips on public speaking:

  • Understand your audience – who they are, what’s important to them, why they should be interested in you. 
  • Prepare in advance – whether you start with a full script, create mindmaps or jot down key words, the important thing is knowing what you’re going to say and the order you’re saying it in.
  • Whilst preparation is essential, it’s important not to learn your talk off by heart or you will lose authenticity. Make the time to rehearse what you’re going to say, but make sure that there’s still a realness to it.
  • If you want your speech to be taken seriously, give it the time it deserves. Build in pauses, breathe deeply into your diaphragm and think about staying grounded. This has the effect of lowering the depth of your voice and bringing more resonance to your voice, which people will find reassuring, particularly if you’ve got something challenging to say.

If you’d like to find out more how to develop your own version of gravitas, check out my book, Leading with Gravitas, sign up to one of my Masterclasses or even invite me in to speak at your next event!

Catch Antoinette Guest Speaking at CHS Birmingham on Tues 26 Oct!

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