Charisma is a strong and empowering trait that many people want but very few have. To be charismatic is more than being just cool or engaging. A person with charisma captures the full attention of those people he or she comes into contact with in dramatic fashion. They not only get attention, but they do so without asking for it.
We’ve all been in situations where we notice someone as soon as they walk through the door, and our heads turn and our eyes stay glued to them as if we were in a trance. Why do we react this way? Well, quite frankly, because people with charisma are truly addictive to be around.
Charisma sneaks up on you. It’s a moment in time that stands still. If you are a fan of The Matrix, you might remember when Neo was in the simulator with the girl in the red dress. Before you knew it, Boom! … time suddenly freezes. These are moments we don’t forget it. Why? Because charisma stops us in our tracks.
The Wow Factor
I have attended several events in my career where the speaker had the ability to capture the attention of the audience, yet only a few have had the wow factor to hold the audience as if they had them under some hypnotic trance. For the few that did possess this charisma, I noticed that the overlooked ingredient of charisma seems to lie in not what they say, but how they say it. Many people have great content to share but it is not so much what comes out of their mouths, but actually their non-verbal communication that seems to give them the distinction of being charismatic.
True Charisma vs. False Hype
Personally, I’ve been suckered in by people that just had the gift of gab, who got me to buy things I didn’t even need. Somehow they wiped my brain of good sense, and I trusted and believed in what they were saying. The question becomes, why? What is it that gives them this special ability to get our attention, keep it, and then influence us? … And most importantly, how can we tell the charismatic leaders from those filled with hot air or selling false hype?
A good way to tell the difference is to objectively look and listen to see if the person seems to be passionate about what he or she is talking about. It’s extremely difficult to communicate effectively if you don’t have a passion for what you do. Another good indicator is to see if the person is trying too hard to get his or her point across. People with charisma simply don’t have to try. If they truly believe in what they are saying, it should be quite clear to you whether they are speaking with their hearts or their wallets.
The King of C- H-A-R-I-S-M-A!
We can’t do anything about our looks falling short of Denzel Washington or Angelina Jolie, but we can develop and enhance our own skills to project a deeper and magnetic self identity. Notice I did not say image! Remember, charisma is not becoming someone or something else. That won’t stand up over the long haul. I use identity because it focuses on amplifying traits and characteristics that you already have.
My favorite example of charisma is Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report. Colbert unleashed a funny, witty and brash version of himself. This character actually resides in Stephen but is not his everyday self. He’s basically turned his sub-conscious voice into a character that says the things that he would normally not say.
So, what can we learn from the King of Charisma? Here are 5 sure-fire ways to awaken your sleeping charismatic giant! …
Speak with Conviction
If you want people to believe and follow you, then you need to develop the power of conviction as it is a skill that is mandatory to express yourself in the most effective way possible. To speak with conviction, your opinion or viewpoint must be clear, succinct, and powerful. Many people get this, however they think that is all they need. I believe that conviction is not achieved unless it comes from the heart. When you speak from the heart, you come from a real and emotional place. You simply cannot fake what comes from your heart. As I stated above, how you say something is just as important as what you say. When you can connect with people from a common place you build a shared vision!
Tip: Practice speaking into a voice recorder and observe how you speak. Make sure you effectively use peaks and valleys in your delivery. Make sure your tone grabs the audience during key points of your presentation.
Utilizing Effective Body Language – A Case Study
Our body language is the 1st aspect an audience or person comes in contact with. It sets the tone for a message.
MIT set up an experiment in which students were being evaluated on presenting business plans to a group of rising star executives. The participants were outfitted with a device called a “Sociometer,” a sensor that records physical activity, energy levels, smiles, nods and tonal variety. The Sociometer predicted (with about 87% accuracy) which business plans would be chosen. The power of body language is a skill worth developing!
Tip: Video tape yourself and watch how your body communicates outwardly to people. Great posture signifies confidence. Utilize hands to help project certain points. Facial expressions really help communicate the mood – funny, serious or passionate.
Authenticity and Truth
Most people have trouble with this one. It’s easier to fit in by trying to be like someone else, but it truly takes a lot of energy to go against the “natural you.” It also makes you vulnerable to alienation and, while that can be very difficult for some people to live with, it is what it is! Simon Cowell is a perfect example of someone who is embraced because of his authentic, truthful, albeit sometimes piercing opinions about contestants musical talents. We may not like it, but we have a respect for his authenticity- and his charisma.
Tip: Do a self check to truly understand your true beliefs and try to live by those beliefs on a daily basis. People like authenticity to a fault. Consistency allows for your belief system to grow roots in the minds of the people.
Confidence, Not Arrogance
Charisma often times is about being comfortable in your own skin. Project an air of confidence, but be sure not to take it too far. Confidence is not a license to be a jerk! I gain my confidence when I feel well schooled and prepared in an area that’s important to me. When I’m not as prepared as much as I want to be, I get thrown off course and doubt seeps in. Think progress, not perfection.
Tip: Ask friends and family if you come off arrogant in your interactions with them. Does how you speak align itself with your physical presence? Are you making eye contact when you speak? Make your audience feel like you are talking to them, and not at them.
State of Mind
Charisma is the state in which people will gravitate towards you. Most people that we admire and follow know when to turn their state on and off. Vince Lombardi was an intense coach who utilized a frenetic style of coaching to motivate and coach his team but at home his wife ran the show. He used this state of mind on the gridiron but not in his everyday life. It is important to note that his character didn’t suddenly change when he got home, nor did his beliefs. He simply used his power of charisma and motivation when it was needed.
Everyone needs down time and time to relax and unwind. After all, what good does charisma do when you’re in bed reading a book? Shut things down a bit when you have a chance.
Tip: Always know when the lights and cameras are on. People expect to meet the person they met the 1st time. Have you ever seen Tony Robbins not hyped up when he speaks? People expect his energy any time they see him speak.