Command a Room Like a Man

by Brett & Kate McKay on July 28, 2009 · 54 comments

in Relationships & Family

commandSource: Life

We’ve probably all seen those men who can enter any room and instantly command it. I’m not talking about the loud and boisterous dolt who makes a scene with obnoxious alpha-male jackassery. I’m talking about the man who exudes a silent magnetic charisma that electrifies the entire room just by his presence. People feel better when this type of man is around and they want to be near him.

The benefits of being able to walk into any social situation and completely own it are innumerable. The man who can command a room is more persuasive in his business presentations, easily meets and makes friends, and attracts more women. While many men are born with the ability to charismatically command a room, it can also be learned. Below we’ve provided a few tips to get you started on being El Capitan of any social or professional situation.

Walk in boldly. Many men walk into a room timidly because they don’t want to appear presumptions or self-important. While you shouldn’t barge into people’s home, once you’re invited in, walk in with a bit of pep in your step. You’re supposed to be there, so act like it.

Theodore Roosevelt was a master at walking into a room boldly. In 1881, Roosevelt was elected to the New York Assembly at the age of 23. Accounts from fellow assemblymen on Roosevelt’s first day in office all describe the impressive entrance of the young man. They recall him bursting through the doors and pausing just for a moment so people could soak him in. According to historian Edmund Morris, this became a lifelong habit of Roosevelt’s; he would literally bound from room to room in the White House. Take a lesson from TR: save the walking softly business for your rhetoric.

Hold your breath when you walk in. Win the Crowd author and Magician to the Millionaires Steve Cohen has a trick that he does before we walks onto a stage or into room to perform. Before he makes his appearance, he takes a deep breath, filling all of his lungs. He then holds his breath and walks into the room. As he talks, the air is naturally exhaled. This simple action increases blood to your face and makes you look “more radiant and lively,” and consequently more confident.  In addition, taking a deep breath and holding it also makes you taller, which brings us to our next point….

Stand up straight! Numerous studies have proven that people are attracted to taller men. Taller men get paid more and they get more women. Unfortunately, not all of us were born with Shaq-like height. Don’t sweat it. Just work with what you got. Work on improving your posture. When you enter a room, don’t walk in with shoulders slouched and your head facing down like a whipped puppy. Show your confidence by walking in with your back straight and your chin up. Try not to stick your chest out too much or else it will look like you’re posturing like a silverback gorilla. Just maintain your natural and correct posture. By doing this, you’ll add inches to your frame and increase your presence in the room.

Take control of your surroundings. We feel most self-assured and at ease when we’re familiar with our surroundings. Familiarity gives us a sense of control, which makes us feel confident. How can you be familiar with a room if it’s your first time entering it? Steve Cohen suggests doing small things to instantly take control of your surroundings. For example, when you sit down at a table in a restaurant, rearrange things on the table. Move a saltshaker or your water glass. It sounds silly, but by doing this you tell your subconscious that you have control (even if it’s nominal) of your surroundings, which in turns makes you more confident and magnetic. Look for small but polite ways in which you can take control of your surroundings in your everyday activities. You might be amazed by the results.

Make eye contact. Every book on self-confidence or assertiveness will tell you that a simple way to increase your presence in a room and your connection with other people is to look them in the eye. The reason it’s repeated ad nauseam is because it works. Eye contact is key to creating a connection with people. History’s most magnetic men all had the ability of making a person feel like they were the only person there. Bill Clinton is a perfect example of this. Adroit use of eye contact is an essential part of this ability.

Eye contact should be engaging, but not overbearing. Don’t stare a person down non-stop. You’ll just creep them out. Look into their eyes, while occasionally flitting yours to the sides of their head and then back. If you have trouble looking people in the eye, try this tip. Take notice of what color eyes the person you’re talking with has. Are they green? Blue? Brown? Or do they have a unique mix? Not only does this help maintain eye contact with people, it’s also a great way to remember people’s names.  After taking note of a person’s eye color, start associating that color with their name. You’ll gain bonus charisma points for being able to recall their name during the conversation.

Eliminate filler words. A nervous tick that plagues many men is filling the space between their words with needless “ummms,” “yeah’s” and “like’s.” Using filler words is not only distracting, it shows that you’re not confident in what you’re saying. If you’re going to say something, say it with ganas, hombre! Don’t muddle up the conversation with needless filler.

But what should you do in those moments when you’re still collecting your thoughts as you speak? Our natural tendency is to fill the air with an “uuumm” or a quick blast of several “likes.”  But fight the urge to do this. Instead embrace the silence. As you come to moments in the conversation where you have to collect your thoughts, just keep your mouth shut. This does two things. First, you eliminate the distraction of the annoying filler words. Second, and more importantly, you draw people in closer to you by creating anticipation in what you’re about to say. By remaining silent, you pique the curiosity of your listener and subtly take control of the situation. Of course, avoid too many long pauses; that will only make you seem awkward.

Focus on other people. If there’s anything you take away from this article, let it be this. If you really want to be the man in the room that people are drawn to, focus your interest on them. Many men have the false idea that if you want to command the room, you have to make everything about you. These misguided souls wear flashy jewelry or skin tight clothing that shows off their well-chiseled body. Their conversation focuses on them- their cars, their bench press, their sexual exploits, etc. While a few pinheads will be impressed with this sort of thing, the vast majority of the population will think it’s a bunch crap.

The reality is that the magnetic gentleman-the man who can walk into any room and own it- is others focused. People want to feel loved, appreciated, and important. Sadly, many people these days aren’t feeling much of that. Perhaps their boss never compliments them or their wife never voices any appreciation for all that they do. If you can fill that void in people’s lives by focusing on them and acknowledging their importance, you’ll instantly bring them under your magnetic influence.

Think back to a time when someone genuinely complimented you. How did you feel? Pretty damn good, probably. How did you feel about the person giving the compliment? Admit it. You most likely thought, “Wow, I really like this guy!” It’s only human nature. We’re drawn to people who show an interest in us. People are like mirrors. When we shine a light on a person, they reflect that light back on us. If we shine a light on every person in the room, we end up being the brightest man there.

So, next time you enter a room, forget being charming. Hell, forget about commanding the room. Just focus on how you can make others feel important. The charm and the room will follow naturally.

Have any other ideas on commanding a room like a man? Drop a line in the comment box.

{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Playstead July 28, 2009 at 2:05 am

Good article. I’m on board with all the points except for holding your breath. I’ve done a lot of public speaking and even been on TV, but can’t imagine holding my breath as I walked out. Seems like that would just feed anxiety. I go with three deep breaths and let it roll.

2 Bela July 28, 2009 at 2:51 am

I agree with the points. I also think it is important to have at least a baseline knowledge of the topic of the room you are walking into. If you are at a wedding, it is best to have a story to relate to the bride and groom, etc. I have certainly had the opportunity to brandish my research topic to the audience of a room and you can truly command the attention if you can portray yourself as a novice level subject matter expert.

3 Beat Attitude July 28, 2009 at 5:52 am

Good stuff. My job as a ceilidh caller (the guy that talks to a crowd at a Scottish ceilidh dance and explains the steps) requires me to have that kind of persona. If you’re addressing a crowd or audience, you really do need to think about these things. If you’re not confident and making eye contact, people will feel excused from listening to you: and it doesn’t matter how loud your microphone is once you lose people. I wonder whether it’s possible to “focus on other people” when you are in that kind of performance role…are there any other performers or public speakers who can comment on this?

4 Adrian July 28, 2009 at 6:55 am

Great post! I’ve always interested in how to have a great presence. Thanx a lot for this post ;)


5 Matt Warnock July 28, 2009 at 7:59 am

Great post! I have been telling people for years the way to hold a room is make those around you feel as they are omportant to you. Great story on TR was that the White House staff always spoke so highly of him because of the way they were treated by him. Years after he left office he returned for a visit and went to every staffer that was still there are greeted each of them by name – from the gardener to the baker and everyone in between. He was beloved by them for his comportment of his fellow man. Great lesson from Christ – to become great we must humble ourselves!

6 Josh July 28, 2009 at 8:43 am

Good article. I especially appreciated that last point. As for ‘holding your breath’, having had to speak publicly on occation I completely understand the point you were making. Personally I’ve found that as I stand at the podium, waiting for the microphone to be adjusted, it pays to smile, take one final deep breath, hold it…them begin speaking in a calm, deep and controled voice. Maintaining eye contact with the audience is critical too, while maintaining a friendly facial expression. Poise is key, and what helps me is being throughly prepared, feeling confidant with what I intend to say (the message), as well as looking presentable.

7 Tarcas July 28, 2009 at 8:48 am

Another good book along these lines is Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. I strongly recommend it to anybody who would like to learn to be more charismatic and friendly. Several of these points mirror points in the book, but the book goes into far more detail, and has a number of other excellent suggestions as well.

8 TDS July 28, 2009 at 8:55 am

This article should be given to every newly graduated man from college. These are rules of the road when you go into business and industry. You meet new people everyday and it’s important to remember their name – it will impress them months later when they scramble to remember yours.
I have to share a little tip I learned that can ease nervous feelings while walking into a large room: simply look to the back of the room and act like you’ve made eye contact with someone you know and throw up your hand with a little wave. Watch any politician walk into a large room – they are masters. I’ve seen artists of the faux-wave pull it off seamlessly and I subconsciously think, “ok this guy knows people so he won’t be hard to talk to.”

Try it out. If it doesn’t work it will at least give you a laugh.

9 Rick July 28, 2009 at 9:15 am

There are few web sites that I care to visit regularly, but AOM is often spot on for reminders or new thoughts I need to address. I started a boy scout troop and was scared to death of all these teenagers with their attitudes. This advice, had I know it in ’98, would have avoided many problems. Now that I’m doing much of what this article talkes about, focusing on others, I am in command. No other adult gets that respect, and the compliments I give seem to have far more impact than from others…they knock themselves out to be noticed by me, and the boy leaders treat the younger boys under them similarily. It has become my purpose, to help these 11-17 year olds become good men, men of Truth.

10 Magnus July 28, 2009 at 10:03 am

Great article, I really enjoy it. It is funny how we as people always have to act to come across certain ways, especially the focusing on others, are you really doing it cause your interested in others or because it can make you seem interested in others, but in the end if you can give someone a compliment and make them feel good it is a good thing.

11 JJ Murphy July 28, 2009 at 10:06 am

I agree with Playstead about the holding your breath. I typically have plotted out my first minute of conversation to increase my confidence, then it flows no problem.

12 James July 28, 2009 at 10:18 am

Excellent piece. In adding to the “Focus on other people” bit, I suggest using restraint in offering up personal anecdotes as a way of attempting to relate or create a rapport in response to what you are hearing from someone in a conversation especially in in a conversation involving multiple people. It begins to look like one-upmanship and as if you wish to steal the conversation away.

13 Ryan Miller July 28, 2009 at 10:47 am

Another restraint to practice should be alcohol consumption. Not everyone in the room is there to party, so make sure your first words are not “is it open bar?” Mingle for a while first, don’t make a bee line for the booze; you’ll make a better impression

14 Daetan Bayar Huck July 28, 2009 at 11:08 am

I agree with, Ryan Miller, the commenter above this. A man who wants to command a room needs to maintain control of themselves. I’m in the tender college years of my life and too often I’ve lost my respect for a man because they made a fool of themselves by excessive consumption. It’s respectful to maintain sobriety while you converse in a social setting; it is evidence that you respect yourself and respect the people you will be talking to — it’s difficult to remember a person’s name or conversation if you’re drunk!

I’ll remember the trick to rearrange a table to show that you control the space. Personally, it sounds contrived and overbearing, but I’ll try it out and see where I can work it in. My feeling now is that a man in control of his space is above such a contrived manipulation and that moving the salt and pepper around to show control is just that: contrived. But I’ll try it out and see what I come up with! Thanks!

15 Josh July 28, 2009 at 1:05 pm

The point about being other-focused is, to me, the most important piece in this entire article. I often deal with bouts of social anxiety, but have been working to simply enjoy the moment. The more that you are genuinely interested in the other, the more that they feel an attraction toward you in some way. As long as you cultivate the sincere appreciation for everyone around you, the charm and all the rest naturally flow from that.

16 MPR July 28, 2009 at 1:33 pm

As another addition to the “Focus on other people,” I suggest arming yourself with around 5-6 topics that you could discuss with just about anyone before you enter the room. Being prepared for “awkward silences” during a conversation with someone you just met is golden. I had an old professor that used to say “Name three things that made you smile this week” in order to instigate a conversation. It sounded corny, but it actually works because their answers ultimately branch out into other topics that would re-start the conversation to more meaningful levels.

17 karmazon July 28, 2009 at 2:10 pm

One thing I always remembered from Juggler of Charisma Arts(google it) is that the person who controls the conversation is not the person who’s talking, but the person who everyone’s talking to.

18 Torrey July 28, 2009 at 2:35 pm

You’d be amazed how many men who aren’t th smarest fellows in the world can give an impression like they are by most of these steps. It’s not always what you know, but the apprearance you give. This creates a perception that you know your stuff.

19 Justin Sanford July 28, 2009 at 5:01 pm

This is nice. I do much of this naturally, but there are a few great tips that will sure help. Never would have thought to move a few small things around just to make a space feel like its yours.

20 Zerobomb July 28, 2009 at 10:08 pm

G. K. Chesterton:
“There is a great man who makes every man feel small. But the real great man is the man who makes every man feel great.”

I think Chesterton hit on a fundamental aspect of greatness that all of us recognize and respect.

21 Matt Brown July 28, 2009 at 11:23 pm

Geat post. great advice.

22 Joseph Masterson July 29, 2009 at 3:32 am

Thank You.

23 Brucifer July 29, 2009 at 6:17 pm

“The exemplary Man undergoes three changes:
- Looked at from a distance, he appears stern.
- When approached, he is mild.
- When he is heard to speak, his language is firm and decided.”

~ Confucius

24 Chris Cruz July 29, 2009 at 6:17 pm

I’ve always admired how one of my best friends can command a room and have EVERYBODY want to be his friend. He’s not loud nor a chatterbox, he doesn’t have the fanciest of things, nor the funniest but he just has a way of making you open up to him and want to tell him about yourself. It also helps him with the ladies because he always rallied up the most girls. I never realized until now that the reason so many people want to be his friend is because he is genuinely interested in people. I remember we were both unemployed looking for jobs and he told me he just really misses coworkers and the social aspect of work. I was like shit I dont care I just want to get paid. But that attitude has really helped him along the way because he’s working on wallstreet(in the IT field).

25 Srinivas Rao July 29, 2009 at 8:32 pm

Very well written article. Just subscribed to your RSS feed :). If all your stuff is this good, I’m sure I’ll be contacting you about doing a guest post for my blog soon.

26 Alex Chebykin July 30, 2009 at 12:42 am

Another great piece, Brett. Like always a good read on any occasion.

Like Tarcas said, read a book How to Meet Friends and Influence People by the master – Dale Carnegie, it will fundamentally change the way you interact with people and make you a happier, more humble person in the end if you heed his advice.

As Chris Cruz mentions a great quality of his friend is that he is GENUINELY interested in other people, that is one very important point advertised in the book. Don’t think about how talking with a person will benefit you, just enjoy the conversation and be genuinely interested in what he/she has to say.

27 Terri July 30, 2009 at 11:46 am

America is filled with media outlets – websites, television, most movies, magazines, newspapers, and books – dedicated to the man bad, woman good (feminist) approach. This site is one of the only places to get information dedicated to men that does not dishonor men.

I hope you do not lose your job honoring men only. Good job. Keep it up.

28 Ted Hundo August 3, 2009 at 10:07 am

Great points! I also agree with TDS comments. The faux-wave is priceless.

Beyond that, anyone reading this article is either struggling w/ confidence or is looking for insight into the tricks that others use to grab their spotlight. I have a few suggestions on engaging a room: 1) confidence re appearance: don’t worry about brand names and labels. Be tucked-in and presentable, shave, comb your hair, and wear a subtle scent. 2) confidence re: talking: Read! if you end up looking a fool because you have nothing to offer, odds are that you are in fact a fool. There are many methods to carrying & control a conversation, but w/o substance from daily reading, what are you really conversing about? 3) Smile – it diffuses everyone. 4) A lot is said about how a man treats even the people who can offer him nothing. 5) Don’t swear; it is for weak souls and children. 6) Drink less. Alcohol ruins men.

29 Steve Doran Trail Boss August 13, 2009 at 1:07 am

As a show host and presenter taking control of a room is important, however it is just as important once you have made you entrance to put people at ease, so pick a few people in your natural path, moving across the room and that the time to smile and touch that person, no need for a hand shake just some type of contact.

You own the room now welcome everyone in. Other wise they will think you are a jerk. They may enjoy your presentation, but over half will leave and go home and tell everyone you were not the guy you appeared to be. This is very easy for me, because I really enjoy meeting them and talking to them after. If it is a really hard room or tense I will make a joke about someone I know will not be offended or the whole room. Once I get a laugh I have their attention for the rest of the engagement. This works with individuals as well.

The only time this does not apply is when you need to really take control of the room because of a confrontational situation.

30 Denny August 13, 2009 at 6:56 pm

Good article, I found it pleasing and a good baseline for anyone wanting to increase their self confidence. There are only two things I would add.

1) If you are going to talk about a subject that can be argued, be knowledgeable on the subject.
2) If you are going to argue and take a position, you better know how to defend it.

31 Scottso September 9, 2009 at 8:15 pm

I agree with the commentary, but I would add shake hands, a firm handshake even with the women, while doing that look them in the eye.

32 Christopher October 11, 2009 at 11:42 pm

As a musician, i have to say that a lot of this advice applies to performing as well. So many performers walk into the room timidly, and don’t smile. It puts me right off. There’s also a lot of, “look at how good I am,” which is the same as being very self-focused.

I think the rearranging things is an interesting tip, and I’m definitely going to try it.

33 Nick October 15, 2009 at 1:08 pm

Loved this article. Being raised by an overbearng mother and a submissive father, I have been working on my proper ‘manliness’ skills as an adult. This site as a whole has been invaluable.

I would like to comment on a question given by a public speaker who does dance intruction in an Irish Pub I think (above). One thing I have learned from observation as I worked as a maintenance tech in a Cabaret-type theater is that if you are trying to engage an audience in something like dance instruction or what-not in an entertainment venue, it helps considerably to pull someone from the audience to assist you in demonstration. Involve the audience somehow.

As the director often pointed out, the audience in such situations has a communal feel in an ‘us’ (audience) vs ‘them’ (stage actors/speakers) situation. So by pulling an audience member to assist in demonstrating a ‘dance’ makes the audience feel as if each of them has been ‘chosen’ after a fashion and solidifies the speakers control and command of the room.

34 Yavor October 23, 2009 at 9:12 am

I would like to add a little tip here.

First offf – the article is very valuable. now, what would make it even more valuable is if each one of us would brainstorm and list the type of situation in which we would find ourselves, where commanding a room would be beneficial. And then remember to apply at least one of those strategies next time we enter such a location.

For example:

- when entering the office
- when entering a party
- when entering a bank or a store
- when meeting new people (bonus list situations in which you usually meet new people)
- etc

Just make a list where you might encounter

Gradually behaving like this will become second nature.

35 dantheman December 8, 2009 at 6:24 pm

wow. I’ve read a whole lot of books of how to gain self confidence be able to act manlier, but this mavellous piece of article is some of the most constructive and realistic one I’ve read. Thanks! Another good tip for many is to talk less, but with more well calculated words, and generally act calm, which will make people show you more respect, and the compliments you give will come more naturally, and they will be more worth. Trying to make other people feel more important is nothing worth if they don’t respect you in the first place. (I know my english could be better, but asking for appologise for it is below my dignity). Love you guys.

36 Mykael April 3, 2010 at 12:19 am

Wow. Very good article, I especially liked the example of being a mirror.

37 David Eikelberg June 29, 2010 at 9:59 pm

If you do not know what to say to make the other person feel important, remember F.O.R.M.

Ask them about their: Family… Occupation… Recreation… Message (your message if you have one for them).

38 Sam July 8, 2010 at 5:42 am

This site is like a how-to to become my Dad, fantastic.
I have noticed that when I’m out at a bar or something re-aranging the table a bit calms me down if I was nervous, never really understood why though.
Another alternative to the faux-wave is the smile and nod, one of my favourites. More subtle than a wave, I find it easier to get away with. the FW always looks fake to me, but acting like you’ve caught someones eye and are happy to see them, any way you do it, is a very good tip in my opinion.

39 Alex July 19, 2010 at 12:24 am

I second Tarcas’ comment; a lot of this sounds like Dale Carnegie’s classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People. But this has a few details not found in that book. Hats off to the Art of Manliness!

40 Andrea July 28, 2010 at 1:16 pm

I’ve known a couple of men who take command of their surroundings as you describe. I think the hallmark of this man is the Focus on Other People. Such a gift can overcome being short.

41 Ben August 2, 2010 at 7:48 pm

Very good. Reminds me of How to Make Friends and Influence People.

42 Ben August 2, 2010 at 7:49 pm

OK, I didn’t see the above comments. I guess that just validates the fact, no?

43 Timothy August 18, 2010 at 11:17 am

Don’t Forget to Smile!!!

44 Daniel October 21, 2012 at 8:34 pm

So great! now i can command a room and get more attractive to women.

45 John-David December 26, 2012 at 2:58 pm

The last tip is gold! In addition to commanding the room, you get the added benefit of learning about other people’s lives and experiences which enriches your own. Just about everyone has knowledge or insight that was learned through struggle. If you are a good listener, you can get the benefit of their experience for free.

46 Jake March 8, 2013 at 7:42 am

Post above me said it all!

47 The Bearded Wonder March 22, 2013 at 9:55 am

“As you come to moments in the conversation where you have to collect your thoughts, just keep your mouth shut. This does two things. First, you eliminate the distraction of the annoying filler words. Second, and more importantly, you draw people in closer to you by creating anticipation in what you’re about to say.”

Also, if you have a beard, this is a good time to stroke it thoughtfully between your thumb and pointer finger.

48 Cshilling June 21, 2013 at 1:05 am

How would one politely ask where a restroom is, when dinner is, ect. without making himself look ungenlemanly?

49 ponyflorist August 11, 2013 at 7:22 am

fair, all good. but heaven help you if you aren’t a man. different rules apply! charisma, magnetism, intelligence, wit, empathy.. = threat. funny ol’ world isn’t it? good luck gents.

50 shaniel December 14, 2013 at 8:31 pm

I have only just across this website recently. Having read a few articles I have to say they are some of most tremendously written pieces I have come across. They really do resonate with me.

51 krys January 28, 2014 at 6:19 pm

Great post! I’ve wondered about exhibiting a greater presence and this certainly spells it out. Thank you so much for your classy, priceless advice!

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