Have you ever noticed how some people captivate everyone they speak to? No matter what they look like or how much money they have, they can walk into a room and instantly be the center of attention. When they leave, people think highly of them and want to emulate them. That’s charisma, a sort of magnetism that inspires confidence and adoration. Like beauty, luck, and social position, charisma can open many doors in life. Unlike these other qualities, anyone can become more charismatic.
- Relax. Charisma is all about channeling your energy to other people. If you channel stress and anxiety, people will be repelled. If you channel relaxation and tranquility, people will be attracted to your calmness, and they’ll want to be more like you.
- Look confident. Charisma isn’t the same thing as confidence, but appearing confident can make you more charismatic because your confidence will put others at ease and inspire faith in your abilities.
- Improve your posture. Nothing conveys confidence like good posture. Stand or sit up straight, but not rigidly. When you meet someone, give a firm handshake and look the other person in the eye. Display positive body language while you’re talking to someone and even when you’re just waiting around. Sit facing the person or people you’re talking to, uncross your legs and arms, and keep your hands away from your face. Look at ease, and don’t fidget or convey nervousness.
- Be anyone’s equal. No matter to whom you are talking, treat them as an equal. If you’re talking to a potential employer, a group of wealthy donors, a child, a stranger, or an attractive guy or girl, for example, don’t put them on a pedestal or talk down to them. Be respectful of other people, of course, but respect them as equals, and expect that they will accept you as such.
- Get in touch with your emotions. Research has shown that people who are generally believed to be charismatic feel emotions strongly, and they are also able to relate to what others are feeling. Ironically, in many societies, the suppression of emotion is considered desirable. Don’t be afraid to feel anger, pain, sadness, or elation, and don’t be afraid to communicate your emotions. Also be aware that there is a difference in suppressing your emotions and controlling how you express your emotions. It is this control which is truly desirable. Always be genuine – fake emotion rarely appeals to anyone.
- Match your body language to your speech. Perhaps the defining characteristic of charismatic people is the ability to use body language effectively when communicating. Gesturing is important, but good gestures aren’t arbitrary.
- Watch how other people gesture. Notice how some speakers’ gestures appear fake or out of sync with their message. These people come off looking shifty or uncertain as a result. Other speakers use body language exceptionally well. These are generally the more effective communicators and appear more trustworthy and competent. These people are often successful actors, religious leaders, and pundits. Look for good and bad examples of the use of body language. Pay attention, and learn.
- Think about your own gestures. When you speak, does your body language back you up, or do you look nervous, uncaring, or bored? If you’re passionate about something, do your gestures communicate this, or do you play it cool?
- Practice in a mirror. Watch yourself in the mirror and give a speech or even pretend to hold a conversation. What are your eyes doing? How about your hands? Do you look like the shifty politician or the charismatic one? Could someone know what emotion you’re trying to convey even if they couldn’t hear you? Practice regularly, and make note of what you need to improve.
- Think before you speak. Reduce the fluff and filler material in your daily communications. Try to make every word count, and think about how you’re going to phrase something before you open your mouth. If you don’t have something important to say, remain silent. With continuous effort, the right words will come to you more easily. It may seem surprising but limiting the amount you talk will make what you have to say more interesting.
- Speak with conviction. Like gesturing, the way you say something can be just as important as what you say. Say something important and say it with conviction. Speak at a relaxed pace and speak clearly. From this baseline, vary your tone, rhythm, volume, and pitch to emphasize your most important words and to keep your speech interesting. Record yourself speaking, and ensure that your phrasing complements your message.
- Treat people as they want to be treated. Make each person you meet feel as though he or she is truly important, regardless of your first impression or that person’s reputation. If you make people feel good about themselves, they’ll be drawn to you and hold a higher opinion of you.
- Listen actively when others speak. Give someone your full attention when he or she is speaking to you. Make good eye contact, and nod in agreement or make brief interjections, such as “I see,” or “Okay,” to assure the person that you are listening and you’re interested in what he or she has to say. A brief touch on the upper arm can emphasize your agreement or empathy with something someone says, and it can make the person feel connected to you.
- Make people feel special. Learn and remember people’s names, and address people by their names. Smile genuinely when you greet someone. Compliment people freely, but genuinely, and accept compliments graciously and without any fuss.
- Developing charisma is an art. The general guidelines above can help you be more charismatic, but your charisma must come from within you and must reflect you as an individual or it will appear fake. Fortunately, everyone has the ability to be charismatic, and it simply needs to be coaxed out. Practice and take note of what works and what needs improvement.
- Don’t mimic others. People with well-developed charisma have a remarkable ability not only to sway people’s opinions but also to cause others to emulate their personalities and even gestures. At the same time, however, research has shown that charismatic people do not emulate other charismatic people. Their individuality sets them apart.
- Have a message. Don’t be afraid to be controversial, to push the envelope. If you believe in something or feel strongly about it, communicate that in a respectful way. Your charisma will help people be accepting of your ideas.
- Take an acting class. Actors and charismatic people use the same techniques to captivate their audience and evoke emotion.
- Join a Toastmasters Club to develop communication and leadership skills with others who have similar interests.
- Put it all out there. People tend to hide thoughts and feelings from each other without any bad intentions, but everyone warms up to someone who is totally honest without being awkward or weird about it. Some things would be weird, but wording them right can be a bit charming. Of course, there are a few exceptions; don’t say anything that will make people feel uncomfortable or want to leave and back away from you.
- Being charismatic isn’t the same as pleasing people. Charismatic people don’t care about what others think. They are just totally charming and charismatic on their own.
- Another path to developing charisma that is truly effective is to meditate and to lighten up. Dropping seriousness and self-concern makes one more charismatic.
- Consider your audience and be careful not to offend them. It can be good to be controversial, but being offensive can make people feel uncomfortable. Challenge, but do not offend.
- Don’t try to fake charisma. You can learn charisma, but trying to be charismatic without practice can make you seem bizarre and untrustworthy.
- Success requires more than charisma. If you don’t have the skills or dedication to do what you set out to do, you will eventually fail.