Stage Time: "Charisma vs. Sincerity"

By Darren LaCroix | Stage Time Articles

Want to leave a lasting impression on your audience? Ever wonder which is more important in communication — sincerity or charisma? If you were in Vegas, which would you put your money on? Last week I was speaking at a conference in Florida. When my schedule allows, I arrive a day early to immerse myself in the conference to gain insight in order to connect with that audience. Every connection is different.

At this conference, I sat in on two sessions of other professional speakers. They were quite different in content and styles. The first speaker, I’ll call Mr. Charisma. He was full of life and vibrant. He was funny and charismatic. The audience loved him. He had them in rapt attention.

The second speaker had a very different style. They could not have been more polar opposites. He was humble and sincere and had a powerful personal story. Mr. Sincere was very conversational and the audience loved him, too. As a speaker coach, it really made me think, who was more effective? Which speaker truly delivered more value?

It was plain to see that they were each being themselves and true to their own style. In my opinion, neither one could effectively adapt the other’s style strength. It would not come across well. For example, Tony Robbins would not be authentic if he tried to speak like Brian Tracy and vice versa. Both are master communicators.

Every presenter is different because every person is different. Many of us emulate our speaking heroes at the beginning of our journey and eventually discover that being authentic leaves a more lasting impression as well as being simpler and much more fun.

In this situation, I have to say that from my experience the audience loved Mr. Charisma and thought he was a great speaker. The irony was even though he had some great points and was funny, that is what the audience left thinking, “He was great.” Not the best service to his audience. A few people approached him after to shake his hand and meet him.

They may have left with a couple good ideas and he was good, but as Paul Harvey would say, “Now, for the rest of the story.” This speaker achieved national fame and has been speaking longer than I have. One of his points was about being a champion and always improving. From my brief conversation with him after the speech, I didn’t get the impression he lived that philosophy about his speaking. I believed he gets great well-deserved compliments because he is charismatic.

From what I’ve learned from great speaker coaches such as Patricia Fripp, what was really missing from his presentation was good structure. The ideas and information he shared would have been more digestible and left a more lasting impression on his audience. They would have loved him and also left thinking more about what they could do to make some positive changes in their lives. Though his intentions were good, if we believe in the importance of your message, we can’t stop at good enough. We must remain a student and make sure the audience leaves with clarity and “gets it.”

Mr. Sincerity lived an inspiring life up against a challenging adversity. He is new to speaking and because of his story he was asked to speak. Not being formally, trained he came with the intention of just having a conversation and helping people. He was low key and sincere. He opened up and told his truth. Though he was not polished, he was “real” and he was able to laugh at himself and his situation. His intention was to “help people” and use his story to do so. Two distinct differences I observed. More people lined up to speak to him after. Many patiently waited for quite a long time to tell him their story or to ask a question. It was interesting.

The biggest difference to me was when Mr. Sincerity found out my background, he was eager to ask me questions. We ended up sitting down and having lunch where he asked many more questions about speaking. In the business world, he is much more accomplished than I am. It’s no wonder why, he was so eager to learn what I knew from my experience. He was very open to coaching.

What audience members do or think after you speak is a better gauge of our value. Sitting and observing then told me a great deal about impact. Mr. Sincerity’s impact was powerful. What impressed me was for his level of experience, that was impressive. One woman was so inspired, she was in tears. She was ready to make a change in her life and Mr. Sincerity was just what she needed.

Both presentations could have been even more powerful with better speech structure. That’s why I’ve spent the last couple years working with Patricia Fripp and developing a new program, Create Your Keynote by Next Week, due to be released next month. Authentic charisma and sincerity are important characteristics for great speakers. Neither work in a vacuum. Having an “audience-focused” outcome as your intention and good structure combined with charisma and/or sincerity is the ultimate goal.

In the situation I observed, I’d have to say that Mr. Sincerity left a more lasting impact even though he was less experienced on the platform. I believe that many loved Mr. Charisma, but left thinking more about how good he was and how “likeable.” My point to you is this — there is much more to great speaking. Neither stands alone. You can be very sincere and still not leave a lasting impression. You also bring to the platform who you are as a person. The outcome could have been just the opposite in this situation. What I loved to see is that Mr. Sincerity was “coachable.” He wanted to learn more and be better on the platform next time. Do you?

Putting aside this situation, all things being equal, I believe I’d choose sincerity over charisma. The raw truth is more helpful to the audience. If the goal of the presentation is just to have people “feel good,” I’d choose charisma.

What do you think is better, charisma or sincerity? Any good stories or observations to share?

Post your response and read others here on my blog!

Stage time,

Darren LaCroix
World Champion Speaker


P.S. Ever thought about having your own seminars or being a trainer? Want the secrets to making it simple and leaving a lasting impression, so you get rehired? Join master trainer, Ed Tate, and me for the TRAIN-the-TRAINER Champ Camp in Las Vegas on May 26th & 27th.

Come a day early and join us for the One-Day, Two Champ SPEAKING SCHOOL on May 25th!

I get emails . . .

Hi Darren,

I hope this email finds you well. I just finished the 365 days of quotes yesterday and then go this email….and since you crave feedback, here is some on the quotes program! 🙂

I loved the quotes – they had a range from business to self help/motivation to spiritual, which I think everyone will get something from each quote. What I really appreciated was when you put your own comments/reflections below the quote. The questions (that are on every quote) are good but after a while I stopped reading them because, even though I can’t tell you what they are right now, my mind was like, Oh, I’ve read these. Know what I mean? But when you wrote something personal, the quote and your comment seemed to stay with my longer. As an added bonus, I think that the reader gets to know you a little better, and therefore you are earning there trust.

Personally, I related most to the spiritual quotes (loved how they came from different backgrounds) because without the spiritual the business and other ‘stuff’ doesn’t really matter. 🙂

Thank you for putting these quotes together and supporting people to make the world a more loving place. I appreciate your work, Darren. 

My best to you,

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© 2012, Darren LaCroix. All rights reserved.


About the Author

2001 World Champion Public Speaking, Keynote Speaker and Founder of Stage Time University.

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