There’s a reason Jennifer Lawrence is one of the most popular actresses today. It isn’t just that she’s smart and talented—she’s also charismatic. Even when she fell at the Oscars, on her way to accept her award she handled it with grace, humor, and confidence. “You guys are just standing up because you feel bad that I fell and that’s really embarrassing, but thank you,” she joked onstage.
“Charismatic people can convey all kinds of emotional content, but what they do is they make you listen,” says Ruth Sherman, a Connecticut-based celebrity speech and media coach. “They’re interesting enough regardless of what they’re saying, so you perk up and listen.”
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If you aren’t as naturally charming as Lawrence, there are ways to fake it ’til you make it. Below, five ways to come across as more charismatic in your next conversation:
Take a cue from Lawrence’s embarrassing Oscar moment: Vulnerability makes us all look more human. At work, this can mean sharing business struggles that help people identify with you. But it doesn’t mean sitting around complaining about your job; it means occasionally sharing a work story that’s not about success. “Great leaders will often reveal where they struggled in business, a time they got fired, what makes them vulnerable,” Sherman says. “It happens to everybody.”
Charismatic people add a bit of humor to their conversations without being over-the-top jokesters. After the Oscars, Lawrence kept the laughs going in an interview with reporters. When asked about her process of getting ready for the awards, she responded, “I just woke up and tried on the dress and it fit, thank God. Then I took a shower.” Sherman suggests keeping a journal of your funny stories so you can use it later in a conversation or presentation. It can be small things that have happened in your everyday life, like perhaps a time you spilled coffee all over yourself on the first day at your new job.
When you’re talking to someone, everything else should be put on hold. Put your phone away and avoid looking at your computer screen if the person visits your office. If you’re expecting a call, say so before you start the conversation.
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Your hands should add meaning to your words rather than detract from them, Sherman says, so don’t park them in a position that looks unconfident (e.g., folded across your chest or behind your back). If you’re not a person who talks with your hands, that’s okay, too—just drop them to the side.
Maintaining eye contact is a good way to assert control, Sherman says. Just don’t do a stare down, which looks aggressive rather than inviting. Likewise, looking down at the ground for long periods or past the person you’re talking to can seem shy and unassertive. Strike a nice balance by looking away from time to time, but returning quickly to continue the eye contact.
This article originally appeared on Levo and is reprinted with permission.