Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Secrets of “Watchability” in Charismatic Speakers

"Watchability." Both my spell checker and an online dictionary tell me that "watchability" is not a real word. However, I will continue to use it because, in my opinion, the ability to be watchable may be the single most important trait a speaker can have.

I view talk shows, religious sermons, presidential debates, and any occasion where a person is providing information to determine his charisma and watchability. Some speakers are better than others, but the main factor common to all charismatic speakers is their ability to speak from a place of authenticity. In other words, charismatic speakers have found a speaking style that fits their personality and unique manner of self-expression.

So what is watchability? It is, to be a bit redundant, the characteristic of being watchable. Said another way, the ability to grab an audience based on sheer personality and force of ideas. People enjoy watching and listening to magnetic speakers. The amazing thing is that if you are watchable, then even if you mess up or if your content or delivery isn't up to par, the audience will enjoy it. The ultimate goal is to have great content and delivery while being amazingly watchable. The challenge is that while content and delivery are easily viewable traits, watchability is abstract. It's easy to watch speakers and critique how they move or use facial expressions. You can listen and critique inflection, pace, and vocal variety. The value of their content is easy to immediately judge. Watchability, however, is like charisma. You can't define it at the moment, but you know it when you see and feel it.

However, I have observed a few things that all charismatic speakers do:

1. They are themselves. These speakers speak from the heart and in a style that is true to them. They don't use other people's words or unnatural body movements that a coach taught them. They give you the impression that if the two of you were hanging out for dinner, they would say the same thing in the same way. They are comfortable. Charismatic speakers look right at home on stage.

2. They are experienced and know the material inside and out. Charismatic speakers literally can speak for hours without the use of notes on a subject that they have researched and exhibit passion about. As voracious readers, they have analyzed every angle of a subject to provide a balance viewpoint. Rarely will this speaker be challenged to respond clearly and succinctly during the questions and answers part of a presentation.

3. They are not afraid of failure. While they want to communicate their message and please their audience, they are not wrapped up into it. They are satisfied to merely get on stage and do their best, because they have done the work to identify and solve a problem germane to the audience. If the audience likes it--- great; if not, it's not the end of the world. They are having fun playing in the field of ideas. You have probably seen a speaker (even a "professional") who looks like they don't want to be on stage. Charismatic speakers have fun. Even if their topic is serious, they clearly act as if they want to be on that stage. They view it as an honor and a privilege. Whether it stems from fear, arrogance, burn-out, or some mysterious other factor, when a speaker would rather be somewhere else, an audience can feel it.

Practice implementing these three ideas: be yourself, get comfortable, and have fun. You can instantly and drastically increase the value of your speech without changing a single word if you do this. You will, in one word, become "watchable."

To become a more charismatic speaker, visit: Charisma

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