The seven steps of GRAVITAS

In praise of Jacinda Ardern 
The seven steps of GRAVITAS

The seven steps of GRAVITAS – New Zealand has been struggling with a way forward and Jacinda Ardern no longer had “the fuel in the tank” to deal with it, but she certainly did have GRAVITAS.


So here are the seven areas in which she excelled.

1. Gestures


Gestures are identified as a critical part of Roman Rhetoric. However, despite playing a major role, this was a skill learnt by imitation and that which was written is now lost. This does not mean it did not exist. What we see today is that Quintilian identified 24 major gestures used by the orators and the visual depiction of oration is almost always associated with specific meaningful gestures. Clever orators have picked up these skills today and Jacinda is one of them.

2. Movement and Anchoring


The Ancient Romans walked AND talked. They were not seen seated and yet, on the contrary, they did not simply wander willy nilly. Instead, Romans used specific columns and places to which they moved to enhance their message.

Sitting static was rarely part of their delivery or that of Ms Ardern.

3. Vocal awareness


Look at the distances in the Roman Forum and venues of oratory. They were usually on the vast steps of a major building and good orators had the skills to throw their voice as well as alter the tone to correspond with their message. Jacinda Ardern never suffered from her voice being too soft or even too hard in her tone for that matter. Her skill is depicting the voice of comfort in times of crisis was lauded worldwide.

4. Memory


Key to any Roman oration was the complete lack of written word. Jacinta Ardern was also one who appeared to speak from the heart without notes and yet for those who know she had conscious processes of dialogue she followed beautifully.


This requires skills of memory that is anything but written and something all good Romans orators applied.

5. Balance of humour and light-heartedness


Just as Gravity has apposing forces at play, so Gravitas does not always mean being serious and weighty. Gravitas involved what today are oft lost skills – smiling and laughter –  something Jacinda Ardern had in spades.

Of course, there are methods and places to apply that humour, but she knew how to manage it never seeming inappropriate.


Jacinda Ardern lit up the international stage and has been a role model to many in her delivery. While Gravitas is not something normally associate with women, maybe if the Romans had Jacinda they would still be around today.

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About Me

Dr Louise Mahler is a body language expert. With a focus on study of the mind-body relationship and business applications; providing practical inspiring improvement to global leaders.

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