A few days ago a friend of mine gave me tickets to the Baton Rouge symphony. We ended up sitting just a few rows away from the stage with a great view of the front line of musicians.
As the concert began, the first thing I noticed was the special guest conductor. He was young and not very imposing in stature but projected such energy through his movements and body language (even with his back to the audience) that you could feel his presence and leadership of the orchestra as it played.
I loved that he wasn't afraid to hold us in silence with his gestures at the end of one particularly poignant piece until the whole orchestra (and room) was silent, too. For a few brief moments, you really could hear a pin drop. Then as his arms and posture relaxed, so did we.
But what most endeared him to me was his impromptu interaction with the audience. Usual symphony tradition says you should NOT clap between movements of a longer piece of music, and I wouldn't be surprised if a few conductors throughout history have scolded audiences at times for breaking this rule. This conductor, however, embraced those who didn't know about that tradition, even turning around after one movement when a few VERY hesitant claps echoed throughout the hall to let us know with a welcoming gesture that it was perfectly "OK" to clap at that point, too.
This experience demonstrates one of my favorite tenants of charismatic communication--that oftentimes, HOW we say something is more important than WHAT we say, because it's our tone, body language and facial expressions that most affect how people FEEL in our presence.
That conductor took a moment when we as a collective group were hesitant, unsure, nervous even, and he connected with us (even for a second) to reassure us and "make us right."
Similarly, the musical genius and performer Jacob Collier, who is known around the world for turning his audiences into impromptu choirs, uses his charismatic communication and leadership skills to get everyone in the room to "go out on a limb" for him. You TRUST that he will lead you through an incredible musical experience, that he won't lead you astray, and so you follow him. But once you're there--singing in a concert hall among hundreds of other strangers--his #1 JOB as a leader is to make sure you feel safe and to GUIDE you to be RIGHT along with everyone else in the room. And he does. THAT is the root of his magical connection with the audience.
Find a way to make YOUR audience (even an audience of 1) feel OK, reassured, laugh or at least less awkward in the moment. It can have a huge impact on their overall perception of you and open new doors for collaboration together.
Ashley Orlando is a jazz vocalist/ukulele artist and coach who helps growth-focused leaders find their voice, grow their presence & amplify their impact.