You may think you can’t actually learn how to be more charismatic because it’s an inborn quality. Nothing further from the truth.
Numerous studies, including one conducted by Harvard Business Review and one included in the recent book The Charisma Myth, indicate that you can practice and learn charismatic behavior just like any other skill.
Talent plays a role here, of course, but even the most charismatic people continuously learn about effective communication, building presence, leadership, and persuasion.
By paying close attention to, say, Tony Robbins you immediately notice that nothing in his presentations is left to chance. There’s a purpose behind every gesture and voice inflection. Read on so you too can learn how to master these behaviors and become more charismatic.
What is charisma?
In the modern lexicon, the word charisma signifies: “a gift of leadership, power of authority” or “compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others.”
The word is actually derived from Greek where it means something like a “favor” or “a divine gift”. Charis was also the name of one of the three “Graces” of Aphrodite – the spellbinding goddesses of beauty and charm.
The benefits of charisma
According to the HBR Study:
“After executives were trained in these [charismatic] tactics, the leadership ratings observers gave them rose by about 60%.”
Just think what it could mean for your business and personal life. And never forget that whatever you do, it’s important to keep others’ interests at heart.
Pick one of the rules and resolve to practice it for the whole day. Let your social interactions be a playground for charisma enhancement. Soon enough, you will master all of them.
The 22 Rules of Charisma
1. Pay full attention to your interlocutor
This tip alone can boost your influence incredibly.
In today’s world, most people are distracted and looking at their phones even while talking to others. You have to break that pattern.
When someone approaches you, stop whatever you’re doing and give them your full attention. Look them in the eye and listen intently, like they’re the most important person in the world. You’ll be amazed by the results.
2. Build a reputation for integrity and character
Influential people’s reputation precedes them. That’s invaluable because it allows you to be persuasive even before you step into the conversation.
If you’re known for high achievement and keeping your word, people will respect you from the get-go. If you’re in a position of power that’s even better because people have an innate respect for authority.
3. Assume charismatic body language
Body language plays a huge role in creating the right impression. In fact, it’s more important than words.
Charismatic body moves include:
- Having an open body posture
- Gesticulating a lot while speaking
- Maintaining close eye contact
- Laughing and smiling a lot
- Keeping your back straight and your chest slightly forward
- Lightly touching other people if appropriate
There’s also something you should avoid:
- Speaking in a low voice
- Looking away
- Assuming a “defensive” posture
4. Create a charismatic mental state
Getting into the right state before a meeting or presentation gives you a tremendous edge. The key here is visualization. Just before stepping in, imagine the situation turning out really well. Imagine yourself as a highly confident and charismatic person.
Moreover, if the meeting is really important, play your favorite power song and just feel good about yourself. This is a technique used by Jeffrey Gitomer, one of the top sales trainers in the world.
5. Have an intention before any human interaction
Before any call, conversation or presentation, ask:
What’s my true purpose here? How do I want this situation to play out? How can I help the other person?
This will set your mind on the desired outcome. It’s much more productive than rambling about whatever comes to mind.
6. Mitigate the negative thought patterns
Negativity is a habit, which you can change with practice. I recommend you go on a 21-day positive mental diet which will change your life and make you more influential.
In the short video below, Tony Robbins explains how being happy affects others around you (in psychology it’s called the ripple effect).
7. Dress and groom for success
It’s easy to overlook this one on your way to becoming the charisma-ninja. Your appearance is crucial when it comes to building authority and making a great first impression. It’s been proven that besides making an effect on others, classy clothing improves your own self-confidence as well.
Just think about Don Draper from Mad Man. His perfectly cut suit, clean shave, and slick hair were some of the keys to his success.
8. Have a firm handshake
Stretch your hand and open your palm widely. Aim for a full grip. It needs to be firm but not a bone crusher.
Then look them in the eye and smile confidently.
Did you know that a decision about the majority of job candidates is taken before the interview even starts? Again, appearance, body language, and a handshake are your tools here.
9. Speak louder and clearer
Charismatic people express themselves clearly and with conviction. Mumbling is not going to get you anywhere.
If people often ask you to repeat things, it’s a bad sign. To solve this, try speaking from your abdomen rather than from your chest. It will deepen your voice and make it louder – which is a clear sign of authority.
Also, be brief and concise. No one pays attention to a person who’s harping on a subject for hours.
10. Gesticulate more
In the beginning, it might feel awkward, but gesticulation will make your communication so much more impactful.
Just look at the top speakers and persuaders in the world – they constantly move around and wave their hands.
Remember: people will forget what you said but they’ll remember how you made them feel. Gesticulation is a part of that.
11. Warm-up before going into important meetings
Just as athletes need a physical warm-up before a competition, you need one before an important meeting. In his book, The Corporate Athlete, Jack Groppel explains that achieving top performance in the business world often requires more rigor than preparing for a sports championship.
Before the meeting, you can visualize the positive outcome, play your favorite “power” music, drink some coffee (not too much), take a few deep breaths, and say to yourself: “I can do it” at least a couple of times.
12. Practice conversation and talking to strangers
Just like with character, building charisma requires going out into the world and interacting with people.
Make use of one of the most powerful tools for socializing – Meetup.com. If you live in a medium or big city, there should be dozens of meetings available to you. Sign up and use these interactions as your charisma playground.
13. Care for other people (be compassionate)
Dalai Lama has a tremendous influence, and that’s mostly due to his infinite compassion. In his presence, even the hardest of hearts melt because he actually cares.
To develop more compassion, you can practice Metta Bhavana the meditation of loving-kindness. During your session, you’ll wish love and compassion to all beings. According to S.N. Goenka, pure love is one-way traffic. You just give.
14. Use the rule of reciprocity
Have you ever wondered why vendors in exotic countries invite you for tea? It’s because after drinking it your psyche will force you to buy something – even if you don’t want it. That’s how powerful the rule of reciprocity is.
Charismatic people know this well. The Godfather, for example, gave favors to many people and because of that was able to make offers that couldn’t be refused.
15. Look into their eyes
Firm eye contact is one of the hallmarks of self-confident people. The eyes are a window of the soul and as the rapper, Big Pun said: “It’s all in the eyes chico!”
So maintain eye contact, especially when shaking hands. I’m not a fan of Bill Clinton, but his eye contact is impeccable:
16. Smile with your whole face
Be more authentic in your signs of affection. Everyone can spot a fake smile.
Smile when you feel like it but do it with your whole being and use all the muscles of your face – especially around the eyes.
Jimmy Fallon and Tom Cruise smile and laugh all the time. That’s why they’re so charming.
17. Really listen to what other person has to say (be interested)
That’s the number one rule from the all-time communication classic, How To Win Friends and Influence People.
It’s all about the other person. “Talk about them and they’ll listen for hours,” said Benjamin Disraeli. Ask questions, be interested rather than interesting. This will get you far.
18. Establish rapport (acknowledge the similarities)
When meeting someone for the first time, try to find some similarities. Let’s say you’re both dog owners – this alone creates an instant connection and builds trust.
I saw that technique taken to extremes by some of the Moroccan vendors I encountered during my travels. I’m from Poland, and astonishingly, many of them claimed to have traveled there or studied there. They could even speak a few words in Polish! This was all devised to build rapport.
19. Walk and talk slower
Just imagine Frank Underwood from House of Cards or James Bond. They almost always take their time with things. They are men of gravitas and charisma – there’s a certain dignity about them.
You can attain this quality by moving and talking more slowly, pausing before answering, and especially by pausing when you speak.
20. Describe the future (leaders have vision)
Charismatic leaders have a vision. The best example here is the “I have a dream” speech by Martin Luther King. The reason it changed the world was that it was intensely focused on the future.
Inspire people by your vision. And use the words “we” and “let’s”. Not “you go do it”, but “let’s do it, just imagine what we can accomplish in the future”.
One of the most inspiring leaders of all time was Steve Jobs. He had a vision:
21. Read out loud
To build charisma, you need to be great at expressing your thoughts. One of the best methods to improve this ability is reading out loud. This will give you a better sense of the language and its rhythms.
In the course of the day, we usually communicate through half-baked sentences and little grunts and mouth noises. But what if you practiced reciting some of the greatest literature and poetry on a regular basis? Do you think it would help you bring some of this magic into your daily life?
22. Practice mirroring
During the neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) courses you can learn about mirroring. By mirroring the body posture of another person (for example, sitting in the same way) you can influence them more easily. When you watch great communicators, you’ll easily notice they use this technique.
Get more ideas on how to be charismatic from Brian Tracy:
Recommended books about charisma and persuasion:
- The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism – Olivia Fox Cabane
- How to Win Friends & Influence People – Dale Carnegie
- Charisma On Command: Inspire, Impress, and Energize Everyone You Meet – Charlie Houpert
- The Charismatic Introvert – Markus A. Kassel
I hope you enjoyed this article about building charisma. Please leave a comment below and tell me about your own tips and experiences in this field.