No theory forbids me to say "Ah!" or "Ugh!", but it forbids me the bogus theorization of my "Ah!" and "Ugh!" - the value judgments. - Theodor Julius Geiger (1960)


Goyder, C. (2015), Gravitas: Communicate with Confidence, Influence and Authority, Vermilion


+ Caroline Goyder has written a fine self-help book about communication.

- She does lean heavily on Virginia Satir, which did not give me new insights as I know Satir’s books.


Gravitas relates to personal and professional success and is described as the ability to balance seriousness with humor and humility, and it involves expressing ideas with authority, demonstrating expertise, and connecting with people on an emotional level. The three components of ethos (trust and virtue, practical wisdom and credibility, and compassion) contribute to gravitas. Pathos (feeling and emotion) is an essential part of delivering a compelling message.

Anxiety and self-consciousness are gravitas blockers that can hinder a person's ability to express their knowledge, purpose, and passion. Self-regulation is essential to boost one's gravitas quotient. Connection is crucial to develop influence and gravitas. Goyder suggests focusing on relationships and not just tasks, being informal, and lightening facial expressions. Additionally, she recommends seeing people as old friends, being fascinated, and asking questions to develop connections. To speak with gravitas, a clear structure and short sentences separated by pauses are essential. There is no such thing as a natural speaker, but shortcuts exist to improve speaking skills. A leveller is a person who is authentic, empathetic, and effective in communication. People need to be aware of whether they are more in their head or heart and how to get into their bodies. For becoming a leveller: 1) set yourself free by using the five freedoms to overcome negative thinking; 2) walk a mile in their shoes to develop empathy and understanding; and 3) extend yourself to build trust and connection. The five freedoms that are important in helping people to rid themselves of negative thoughts that trigger their gremlins are: 1) the freedom to see and hear what is here; 2) the freedom to say what you feel and think; 3) the freedom to feel what you feel; 4) the freedom to ask for what you want; and 5) the freedom to take risks and make mistakes.


To deliver presentations with gravitas, the main idea is that the audience is the hero, and the presenter is the wise mentor who equips the audience for their challenges. To present with gravitas, one needs great content, focus, case, and real interest in the audience. Gravitas requires provoking thinking, changing minds, and engaging the audience with energy, passion, and authority. The presenter must also be ambitious about their purpose and aim to cause changes in the audience.

Being prepared and having confidence in the content is important. The key to an impactful presentation is knowledge, purpose, and passion, carefully chosen and packaged for the audience.

Goyder recommends beginning the presentation with visualization, where the speaker imagines themselves giving the presentation as they want it to be. They then write down ideas and phrases that come to mind and create a storyboard to organize their thoughts. Next, the speaker should focus on the audience by researching their needs and desires and understanding the difference between the audience's understanding and their own. They should then answer a series of questions, such as what problem they want to solve, what is at stake, what insights they have, what information is scarce or valuable, and what objections the audience might have. Once the questions are answered, the speaker should create a one-line summary of their angle on the subject and then organize their structure.

One of the key points is to prepare your message map, a tool that helps to structure your presentation by identifying the problem, solution, and call to action. It's also important to include personal stories in your presentation, as it makes it more engaging and memorable for the audience. You should make a store of your stories, so you can use them in different talks with different audiences. You should also edit your presentation, making it concise and elegant, with a focus on the audience's needs and possible objections. You should practice your presentation thoroughly, treating it as exploration, and use different methods such as recording yourself to refine your delivery.

Goyder provides tips on physical and mental preparation before giving a presentation. She suggests keeping the shoulders relaxed and using open and relaxed gestures. She advises against nodding too much and emphasizes the importance of eye contact. She also recommends protecting one's time before the presentation and doing some physical exercise to energize oneself. She also encourages individuals to focus on their audience, map out key points, and breathe deeply to stay calm. She recommends finding stillness before the presentation to gather energy and channel positive memories if feeling doubtful.


One section provides tips and tricks for running successful meetings with gravitas. To make meetings effective, they need to have a clear purpose, ideally a common goal, and be completely ready, requiring strategic thinking. You should ask yourself if a meeting is necessary and ensure it has a specific achievable outcome that everyone in the room is involved in. If it's purely informational, it can happen over the phone or video call. To prepare for the meeting, it’s essential to do some research, gather objections beforehand, and ask intelligent questions. Meetings are rituals, and you need to have a sense of readiness for each stage to create the right mood. Goyder emphasizes that style and attire should match the organization's style and make one feel comfortable. She also emphasizes the need to make a good impression on arrival and the importance of dressing appropriately to increase gravitas.

Goyder suggests that those who tend to get lost in the moment during meetings are “Kairos types” and should appoint someone in the room to keep them to time. She writes it’s important to be vigilant of time huggers and gently but firmly move the agenda on. Finding a genuine common purpose for the meeting, which will help to create a "we" in the room, is important, as it is to see the bigger picture and bridge the different perspectives of people in the room. Goyder advises being the person who joins up the dots and is able to tune into other people's anxieties and motivations. If the content of the meeting makes people tense up and shift in their seats, it’s important to face up to it and move the energy on. It’s also important to listen fully to everyone when they speak and acknowledge the contributions of others. There are three kinds of listening: reflective listening to gather information, supportive listening to build and coach others, and listening for possibility to look for ways forward.


"Gravitas" contributes to personal and professional success, and involves a balance of seriousness, humor, and humility. Ethos, driven by trust, practical wisdom, and compassion, contributes significantly to gravitas, while pathos, rooted in emotion, is crucial for delivering compelling messages. Overcoming anxiety and self-consciousness, essential blockers to gravitas, requires self-regulation. Connection, focusing on relationships, informal communication, and genuine interest, is helpful for influence and gravitas. To speak with gravitas, a clear structure, short sentences, and thoughtful pauses are indispensable. Presentations with gravitas demand a focus on the audience as the hero, engaging content, and the ability to provoke thinking and passion. Successful meetings with gravitas hinge on clear purposes, common goals, and strategic readiness. Effective listening, bridging differences, and finding common purposes are essential in creating a conducive meeting environment. Refreshing in Goyder's message is that she doesn't give a short list of do's and don'ts. Building a bridge to the audience is hard work and has to be done time and time again.