Regardless of whether you’re giving a boardroom presentation to 5, a workshop to 50, or a keynote to 500, you really ought to buy and bring your own clicker. I know it sounds silly, but it matters far more than you would ever expect.
Without a clicker, you’re a goat on a rope, chained to your laptop and physically trapped in the room’s “charisma dead-zone”. Without a clicker, your computer acts as a physical wall which splits you from your audience and draws away your eyes and attention. As such, a clicker massively improves your perceived charisma. And since you can never count on a venue reliably providing them, you really, really ought to buy and bring your own. Let’s dig into exactly why it makes such a big difference.
According to The Charisma Myth, charisma isn’t an innate quality, but is rather something that you project through a combination of warmth, presence, and power. Since you’ve been invited to teach and are introduced as an expert, you’ll rarely be lacking in “power”. But both warmth and presence need to be built from scratch each time you step in front of a new audience, and trapping yourself behind the podium absolutely obliterates your chances to do so.
Strong “presence” means that the audience feels that you’re completely focused on them, and that there’s nothing in the world which is more important to you than they are. This comes across naturally when you’re standing at the front of the stage, with nothing between you and them, speaking right to them, human to human. But what do you think happens if you’ve got a podium, a laptop, and an infinitely distracting screen right in front of you?
Strong “warmth” means that you seem friendly, approachable, and humble. If you’re all “power” and no “warmth”, then you come across as impressive, but also hostile, arrogant, and unapproachable. (Having all warmth and no power, on the other hand, makes you seem weak, flimsy, and overeager to please. You need both.) Stepping out from behind the “protection” of the podium goes a long way toward making yourself seem vulnerable, human, and available to your attendees. They’ll feel more comfortable asking questions, and more comfortable revealing their own weakness.
Although charisma is a big topic with plenty to talk about, here are the top “quick fix” tips:
Get a slide clicker and stop standing behind your laptop
Get a wristwatch and classroom timer and stop using your phone as a clock/timer (holding a phone makes you seem cold and distracted)
If you assign exercises, walk the room while students are working and listen in on them thinking and talking to each other (helps warmth and presence, and also helps you teach better)
Let people finish asking questions before you jump to answer them
Watch videos of yourself teaching to see where you fidget and pace, and then get rid of whatever you’re fidgeting with
Projecting charisma isn’t about faking your personality or turning into a superstar. It’s just about making small changes to your behaviour (and your equipment!) which cause you to come across just like you already are with your friends: friendly (warm), competent (powerful), and there for them (present). But you need a clicker. Get one!