“Gravitas” was one of the ancient Roman virtues that denoted “seriousness,” but nowadays it’s a quality that also extends to self-confidence and a strong presence. You know the types of people. The ones who talk the talk, who seem to command attention when they walk into a room, who, when they talk, people can’t help but listen. These people have a lot of gravitas.

It can be annoying when someone who has this presence steals the limelight, but what is great about gravitas is that it can be learnt! Just like everything else, confidence is a skill and the more you practice it, the more naturally it will come.

If you want to have more gravitas or confidence as a leader, here are 6 things that you need to do.

1.Stand up straight with your shoulders down

Your posture and body language is absolutely crucial when it comes to the presence that you are projecting. For example, if your voice is strong but your shoulders are hunched and you’re looking down, people will perceive you to be closed off and shy.

If you want to appear more confident and have a greater presence, open up your chest, stand tall and make direct eye contact. So much of what people call gravitas is actually just their reaction to the other person’s body language. Take stock of yours and make sure you are projecting outward confidence.

2. Use direct language

You need to reinforce your body language with how you talk, so make sure that you’re not using passive language. Saying things like “I just think that…”, “Maybe if I…” or “Am I making sense?” will undermine your authority, credibility and confidence. If you want more gravitas, you need to think about the language you use. Replace passive phrases with active and direct phrases such as “From my point of view… The truth is… What is your stand on…”

3. Dress the part

Now you’re walking the walk and talking the talk, you need to look the part. Gravitas often comes from people who just look the part, so think about how you can dress and present yourself to project the image you want. For men, it may be a suit and shined shoes or a trimmed beard. For women, it may be high heels or wearing your hair up and off your face.

If you struggle with confidence, looking the part can help you feel it.

4. Overcome your self-limiting beliefs 

Identify any self-limiting beliefs that are reducing your gravitas. This could be always saying yes to requests, letting others influence your decisions instead of you making the final call, and/or letting others speak over you.

Behaviours such as this often come from self-limiting beliefs about yourself such as not feeling good enough or like an ‘imposter’ in your role. Identify these so that you can start making impactful changes.

5. Pace your words and emphasise key points

When presenting or in meetings, think about the great orators of our time (e.g. Barack Obama, Winston Churchill etc). They make short, sharp points; they take their time over their words and say them with conviction, pausing for impact, and they put emphasis on certain keywords and phrases that they want you to remember.

If you want to have more gravitas, where your team hang on to your every word, make sure you do these three things when conversing and presenting.

6. Always prepare before key meetings or conversations

Obama and Churchill didn’t wing their speeches, they prepared for them. Not only were their speeches carefully crafted and each word chosen carefully, but they also practised delivering the speech.

Most of us prefer to have time to think before answering a question, rather than having to think on our feet, so give yourself this time. Prepare before key meetings or conversations and it will be far easier to converse and answer with confidence.

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