FROM PSYCHOLOGY TODAY
You use metaphors whenever you compare your group to an army on the march or a sports team. Lady Gaga uses metaphor when she refers to her fans as “Little Monsters.” Prince invoked a powerful metaphor when he appeared on television with the word “slave” written across his cheek. Metaphors are charismatic because they simplify and stir people’s emotions and imagination.
Use stories and anecdotes.
Personal stories can be used to great effect, especially stories of early struggles and challenges and how you overcame them. Rock stars use stories to make a stronger connection between their audience and their music. Paul McCartney, for example, introduces many live songs with an anecdote about the person the song is about. Others tell stories about things that happened to them in the town hosting the show.
Show moral conviction.
Moral significance makes your message more meaningful. By appealing to the “right thing to do,” you reinforce core shared values and stir others to action. Rock stars display moral conviction to strengthen their bond with their audience. U2 had fans march around the stage with pictures of then-imprisoned Aung San Suu Kyi on their 360-degree Tour. Madonna printed “Pussy Riot” on her back during her MDNA tour in support of the imprisoned Russian group. And late Beastie Boy Adam “MCA” Yauch organized the Tibetan Freedom concerts, rallying fans and fellow musicians for Tibetan independence.
Express shared feelings as others.
By revealing that you feel the same way as others do, you increase their identification with you. Statements such as, “I am just as overwhelmed as you are,” or, “I am elated at this opportunity,” strengthen your emotional connection. Musicians also use shared feelings. Neil Young, though he’s 68 years old, still acts like an “angry young man,” sharing feelings of disillusionment with his audiences.
Set high expectations and communicate confidence.
By expecting much from others and yourself, you inspire those around you to be more than they are now. But it’s not enough to set high expectations: You have to let others know that you believe in them. When Prince signed and produced the band The Time for Warner Brothers, he insisted that they improve their stage show. According to then-keyboard player Jimmy Jam, Prince insisted that all band members sing harmony and dance while they played. “That’s what Prince did, time and again,” Jam said. “He taught us we could do things we’d never believed we could.”
Use contrasts to frame and focus messages.
Contrasts are powerful rhetorical devices because they emphasize. Contrasting statements such as “Rather than counting how many hours you’ve put in, we care about how much value you create,” or, “Most companies are letting people go but we’re hiring,” send a strong message. Rock stars do this, too: Madonna contrasts herself with Lady Gaga, singing “She’s not me!” on her MDNA tour. And Lady Gaga contrasts herself with performers who lip sync.
Lists boost charisma because they give the impression of completeness. They send a message that you have a coherent understanding of an issue. For example, when you say “The new rules will affect us in three major ways,” you position yourself as an expert on an unknown topic.
Use rhetorical questions.
Rhetorical questions draw other people in: “Is everyone having a good time tonight?” They also create anticipation. When you ask, “Where do we go from here?” you’ve got others hanging on every word.
Use nonverbal strategies to animate your words.
By animating your body language, you engage others. Body gestures, facial expressions, and a vocal tone that demonstrate passion leave more memorable impressions, whether on a stage or around a meeting table.