Well, for one thing, such speakers possess authority. We may or may not recognize them as experts before the occasion of their speech. But once they begin to talk, there’s something about the way they stand and move. Such speakers know how to hold themselves and command the space around them, and definitely exhibit a unique leadership style.
In a word, they exhibit confidence. And importantly, they do so in terms of physicality. They have executive presence. Though sometimes that's hard to define, it can be easy to spot, because it shows.
Most speakers, I believe, are confident in their message. They strongly believe they have the knowledge and ability to get that message across. The issue concerning sufficient authority isn’t knowledge or commitment, then. It’s finding a way to “broadcast” that level of passion, to externalize what they’re thinking and feeling. And, of course, keep their nervousness under wraps.
Show Your Listeners They're in Capable Hands
Externalizing these things in your own speaking situations—your deep commitment to your message and your interest in speaking on this topic—really comes down to one thing: using nonverbal communication effectively.
That's because audience members aren’t mind readers. They can’t "sense" your expertise, your passion for your topic, or your concern that they understand what you're saying. You need to show them these things. Remember: first impressions are lasting impressions. It's critical that you convince listeners right away that they can relax, that they’re in capable hands.
How can you do that?
Keep in mind, first of all, that “how you stand affects your standing with your audience.” Evaluate your posture (use a mirror, a colleague, a spouse). And think about how you occupy space. Do you claim the space that’s allotted to you as a speaker, or do you try to minimize your physical presence?
If posture (your “standing”) is a problem for you, imagine that there’s an invisible wire leading from the top of your head upward into infinity. Someone up there is tugging gently and steadily on the line, straightening you up in a slow continuous process. None of the “Ten-shun!” of a military snap to attention should be present here. Your posture should be upright but not stiff.
Use Movement Effectively
When it comes to movement, use gestures that are inclusive rather than exclusive. Offer an open palm to a question rather than a pointed finger. Or take a step in the direction of someone who speaks to you from the audience, or at least lean towards them.
And please, don’t be afraid to come out from behind the lectern! Why should you surrender to a physical obstacle that stands between you and your listeners?
Finally, remember that just as emotions produce physical responses, the opposite is true: If you assume a confident and authoritative pose, you’ll actually feel more credible and professional. Better still, your audience will see the difference immediately.