Dynamic Speaker or Magnetic Speaker?

Perhaps the single greatest question I grapple with as a speaker is, “How can I touch audiences to their soul, to the essence of their being?”  I wondered if I should be more dynamic, perhaps to captivate them.  I wondered if I should be less dynamic, but more “real.”  As I studied many speakers live, on audiotape, and on videotape, I began to realize that some speakers had something that I could not explain, something that drew me to them and held me there while other speakers seemed to let me drift away.  Even dynamic speakers could lose me.  It wasn’t until I met Lee Glickstein that I received the vocabulary to describe this phenomenon for myself and resolve at least part of this question.

Lee Glickstein, creator of Speaking Circles®, described the difference between dynamic speakers and magnetic speakers, and let us know that elements of both are required for great communications.  This article briefly introduces Lee’s concept, shares my own ideas on the subject, and gives you resources to pursue it for yourself.

Contrasting Dynamos and Magnets

These distinctions between dynamism and magnetism in speaking were adapted from “Be Heard Now! Tap into Your Inner Speaker and Communicate with Ease,” by Lee Glickstein, Broadway Books:




Basic nature



Primary orientation



At best


Transfixes audiences


Transforms audiences


With confidence


With receptivity


Use of silences

Pause for effect

Stop to connect

Use of humor

Makes people laugh

Lets people laugh

Primary strength



Primary mode



Priority activity

Talking to audience

Listening to audience

Charisma comes from

Exuding energy

Attracting energy

Electricity source

Pumping out

Decreasing resistance in

Functional role




Tends to be scripted

Tends to be fluid


Dynamism or Magnetism?

“Is it better to be dynamic or magnetic?”  Good question and an easy one to answer – both, and it depends.  You might deliver the most brilliant, deepest nugget of truth, but if the audience is near comatose and doesn’t hear you, what difference does the message make?  Conversely, if you are constantly over the top, out of tune with the audience, you might desensitize them or lose credibility with too much show.

In practicing for the Toastmasters Region VI speech contest, I had to tell my Canadian audiences that my style might seem a little over-the-top for them; so just ignore it because most of the Region VI audience and judges would be Americans who tend to like a good sizzle with their steak.  I still received feedback suggesting that I tone it down a little.  After the contest, a comment I frequently received was while I was the most “real” of the speakers, the winner probably won because he was more dynamic.  Argh!

Lesson #1: Know your audience and cater to their expectations.

Lesson #2: Don’t take your performance in a Toastmasters speech contest as the measure of your ability to communicate.

I like to measure my ability to communicate by the number of teary-eyed people who approach me after I speak, share a hug, and tell me how deeply the speech moved them.

Sometimes, the most moving moments with an audience come when I leave my intended path and go where it seems the audience wants to go.  I once spoke at the Positive Thinkers Club of Kingston, Ontario.  After I exhausted my prepared text, the tongue-in-cheek presentation, “The Power of Procrastination,” I told the audience that I’d like to explore some more serious ideas (without any idea of where I was heading).  In about 30 minutes (perhaps it was 60 minutes), we shared some amazing things that I scarcely remember.  They invited me to return anytime.

If I was dynamic, it wasn’t due to any deliberate attempt to be dynamic.  I just wanted to share with them a different space from the one each of us came from.  We entered into a third space in the moment of communication, somewhere between our worlds, where we could meet openly and honestly.  There was no pressure, no nervousness, no rules.

Speaking Circles

To explain Speaking Circles®, I drew this excerpt from www.speakingcircles.com/intro.htm:

“A Speaking Circle is a safe, small group, usually 5-10 participants, where we offer an innovative, natural and absolutely supportive approach to public speaking: being genuinely yourself, and receiving positive, appreciative and empowering acceptance for doing so. The Facilitator opens with a few minutes to set the tone and discuss the nature of the work. Guidelines for absolute safety are laid down and any questions answered. Each person gets a chance to stand in front of the group for three minutes (first time participants go last) to be the center of attention and ‘check in.’ This may involve being silent and ‘receiving’ the support of the group, rather than any priority on having to speak. After this three minute round, each person, in the same order, gets five minutes to follow any thread or theme, or remain silent, with the priority always on ‘receiving the listening.’ This five minutes is followed by positive feedback led by the Facilitator. The feedback, along with the three and five minute ‘talks,’ is recorded on a personal videotape given to the participant for private viewing.”


To find out more about Speaking Circles®, look for books and audio tapes by Lee Glickstein at your nearest bookstore, Chapters.ca and Amazon.com


Click the book to buy it now:

Lee Glickstein’s Web Page


Certified Speaking Circle® Facilitators:


Your Journey

Through mindful learning, practice, and “being” with your audiences, you will find your balance between dynamism and magnetism.  Each of us has a different mix that best complements us in that moment of communication with the audience.  How long will it take to get there?  I don’t know.  In communication, I don’t know if there is a “there,” or if just being on the journey is it.  Is there a destination or only a path?  Perhaps each of us must answer that question for ourselves.  Perhaps there is no one answer, but only your answer.

Get Lee’s book: Be Heard Now!


One Response

  1. […] Be Heard Now! Tap Into Your Inner Speaker and Communicate with Ease by Lee Glickstein — review by Craig Senior. […]

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