Manners we can steal from charismatic people

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My mom’s visiting from Sweden. Yesterday, I surprised her with a trip to a gospel church as I know it’s quite an experience.

charismatic peopleThe choir at the Brooklyn Tabernacle.

For me, the fascinating part was how the pastor presented his stories.

The audience was spell-bound by what he said – or, to be frank, HOW he said it.

You see, if we’d write down what he said word for word, we’d see how WHAT he said was pretty basic and repetitive. It looked something like this:

“You will overcome.
We will all overcome.
You will overcome.”

However, the WAY he said it made the audience go ecstatic.

His manners remind us, once again, how delivery often is more important than the content of the message.

One recurring question I get is “What am I supposed to say when I initiate a conversation with a stranger” or “What am I supposed to say in this specific situation”.

My more advanced readers, on the other hand, wonder how they should say it.

What we say speaks to people’s intellect. How we say it speaks to people’s emotions.

This is what we can learn from how the pastor spoke:

  • Confident people speak SLOWER than those who are nervous.
  • Charismatic people maintain eye contact longer than less charismatic people.
  • We tend to believe those who sound assertive when they say something. If we want someone to believe something, we want to say it like we truly believe it.
  • Charismatic people use variation in tempo and volume.
  • Confident and charismatic people use PAUSES when they tell stories.

The use of pauses is especially fascinating, so I would like to expand on that.

Confident people can speak with high intensity at times, but they balance this intensity up with pauses to let the listener process what’s being said and build up anticipation for what’s next to come. If we speak with excitement without these pauses, we come off as the kid who just came back from Disney World and wants to tell us all about it. On the other hand, if we add pauses, that’s when we immerse the listener.

We don’t want to walk around in life and talk like a preacher. That would just be weird. But using the same principles makes us more interesting when we speak.

Let me know what you think in the comments!

– David

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David Morin is the founder of SocialPro. He's been writing about social skills since 2012. Follow on Twitter or read more.

Go to Comments (17)

17 thoughts on “Manners we can steal from charismatic people”

  1. What you say about confident speakers who use pauses and style is very true. I always noticed it but neglect to implement it myself. So simple yet so complex. Thank you!

  2. Excellent insight! I love to talk like a kid getting back from Disney but when I want people to listen and retain the information I’m giving them I live a good pause for effects!

  3. This is a great incite. I believe that is largely the reason Trump won the election in the US. I believe he understood this principle very well and how he spoke had an effect on a lot of voters.

  4. Right on that. Pausing a bit has always made people wait and listen to what I am going to say next. Even when its the time when I am thinking what to say next. And usually I end up saying normal things after the pause, nothing interesting. I have used it quite a number of times with success untill people started reakizing that I am a bit slowly began calling me tube light. Lol

  5. Hi David and Viktor (wave)

    Your advice is very real and honest and I wish to thank you both for that.

    I am always pretty impressed with the way preachers speak and capture their audience. I do think there’s a lot we can all learn from them about charismatic communication. I’m glad you have noticed too. Much to explore 🙂

  6. Yes, delivery is more important than content (Especially with our entertainment driven society)! Even churches are becoming a means of audience-centered, theater play theatricals instead of God-centered worship. That’s why not only preachers utilize these principles but also sales professionals and marketers. ” Were living in a fast-paced environment with lives and families so who has time to research if what you’re saying is true.”- Some might exclaim- As far as communication on a day-to-day basis throughout our different environments it can make you a likable and influential leader if used with other principles.

  7. I agree with you. There are times when one speaks monotonously without voice modulation and you wonder whether they are really worth listening to. They shout, scream, dance around and sweat…the list is endless. Let’s indeed learn from this preacher.

  8. Hi, I have been reading your e-mails since day one. Due to lack of time I couldn’t reply or comment on any of them. But they have been very helpful since I started going through them. Ican relate myself with the examples you give in different situations. Hope to learn more and more from these lessons. Have a nice day.

  9. I wish for people to learn how to be led by purpose and meaning of what people say and not led by momentary emotion. What you describe is very true about ‘charismatic’ speakers and what leads me the other way. I dont want to manipulate or bully people with my eye contact. I want to respectfully hear their perspectives, their hopes, their goals, their strengths and challenges. I want to be able to support people in developing self-efficacy in life. I agree with Camilla.

  10. Hi David and Crew! ? I think that’s very interesting thought David. I also think that if you find something you believe in that it’s easyer to talk that way! Like.. ..calm and strong. ? // Camilla

    • Thank you Camilla! Glad you found it interesting! 🙂

      That’s a good point you bring up, speaking with conviction, believing in what you say makes it come out much better.


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