“If you want to be an orator, first get your great cause” as Wendell Phillips, the famous American lawyer and orator put it. It’s true that anyone can be a speaker, someone who would read from a piece of paper that someone else might have or might not have written to be read. But what is it that separates the Churchills from others? What are the qualities that make one special and the other ordinary?
As is evident from Phillips’ quote, someone who aspires to be a good orator needs to believe in his own words. He would have to feel deeply for his cause. His feeling for the cause would in turn lend charisma to his voice.
We can find speakers a dime a dozen that would have a cause they believe in and they would even have self-confidence to do it. How about those terrorist threat videos that keep going on and on? Why aren’t they as charismatic as Nixon or Churchill or Kennedy or Nehru? Theo couldn’t put it in any simpler words when he said, “An orator without judgment is a horse without a bridle.” So someone with a cause and confidence, when lacking proper judgment, can never be a charismatic public speaker.
Goethe, the famous German writer and politician, argued that the best qualities an orator can learn are from his own experiences in life.
If we were to compile a list of desirable qualities in an orator, then the list might never end, however, every speaker who aspires to be charismatic, needs to check the following points off his list-
Passionate – Be passionate about what you have to say and your words would act as beacons of light for others to follow you.
Self confident – If you don’t have confidence in yourself, why would someone else follow you? Trust in yourself and your own words. Let your confidence carve your words in stone.
Witty and Humorous – Have a good sense of humour and be quick on your words. A witty answer can bring a smile to any face.
Lively & Energetic – If you think that people would come to listen to you because you are someone who has been there and who has done that, you may be right. But if you think that they would actually listen to you, you are wrong. They may be present in person, but their minds may be off in LaLa land. You have to be frequent with a change in your tone of voice to keep your audience interested. Let your energy flow through them.
Knowledgeable – Always do your research before you speak. Make sure you know the ins and outs before you present your views. If you do, you’d be respected for your knowledge.
Opinionated – Have emotions, enthusiasm and conviction. If you don’t have an opinion on a topic, why would someone bother to listen to your views?
Cheerful – Have a pleasant personality and a positive outlook.
Logical – Whatever your views maybe, make sure they have a strong sense of logic behind them. You should organize yourself to speak in a logical way.
Honest – If you are not honest and make up facts as you go, chances are you’d be found out soon. Be fair and responsible in what you say. Have patience to listen to your audience when asked a question, and reply honestly.
Apart from the above few, always maintain an eye contact with your audience. Enjoy yourself while you speak, and smile - it’s always charming. Be clear in your speech and as humane as you can be. Empathize; don’t sympathize, as it can be taken adversely. Act freely when in front of your audience. Gestures spark interest, so does your facial expression. Be relaxed.
Another important thing to look into is the content of your speech. Make sure it’s simple to understand and well justified. Try appealing to emotions of people, their values, their identities or even their hopes. Advertisements may not have any one orator, but the ‘Happy Family’ structure they portray, have made many a families aspire to be like them.
There are a few techniques that successful orators like to pursue; some like to have a contrast in their own speech, some like talking in points, while some others like to post a question to their audience and then offer them a solution. Quite a lot of good orators are renowned for their use of punch lines.
Someone once said that delivery of a speech is three times more important than its content. But is it possible the same written words would have a different impact when they are read out a loud?
Yes, we see it happening ever so often. Why do you enjoy hearing a sport commentary more than reading about it? Well, it’s because of the images that you picture in your mind. It’s so much more fun when someone tells you how he or she imagines it.
When we use some words to help others portray a picture, they are called picture words. The moment you hear them, an image is formed in your mind and it guides the perception of your audience to how they would interpret what you would say next.
“With great powers come great responsibility,” a dialogue made immortal by the movie Spiderman should be easy enough to remember when it comes to being a Charismatic Orator. If you expect others to follow you, make sure you are ready for it!.