What do Lady Gaga, Frank Sinatra, and Steve Jobs have in common? They’re all charismatic figures. Yes, they’re well known for their monumental achievements and talent. But it’s their ability to capture attention that sets them apart from many of their peers.
Ultimately, charisma is all about how you make people feel. And despite what others may try and tell you, it’s not something that you have to be born with. It’s something you can hone and develop over time.
Here are three things that anyone can do to be more charismatic.
1. Be present
To be in the moment, you can’t be in a conversation and have your mouth moving with words coming out when your head is somewhere else. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking to one person or giving a speech in front of a hundred. If you want to draw people’s attention, you have to pay attention to yourself.
Most people speak at 150-200 words per minute, and most people think at about 700-750 words per minute. That leaves a lot of time to engage with your ideas. To do this, try thinking in graphic images. See the image in your mind’s eye. Don’t point to your PowerPoint—visualize the arrow moving up as your sales go up. You could also think in terms of scene images—don’t just put a bunch of selfies on the screen, revisit the scene in your mind’s eye. Visualize that walk on the beach.
When you become more engaged, your audience will become more engaged. Have you ever been around a person whose positive energy and optimism lift your moods? That’s charisma right there.
2. Connect with your feelings
Another key to being charismatic is connecting with the emotions surrounding what you’re saying. It might sound so simple, but it’s difficult to do. As a speaker, you are in a world of noise—external noise from your environment but also internal noise from your immediate situation. For example, if you’re in an interview, your insides are blaring with nerves. That’s normal, but if you let that feeling dominate, you’ll end up tying your behavior with that feeling, rather than what you’re saying.
Recently, I was working with an interesting client. She had a classic Ingrid Bergman presence—definitely a charismatic look. But then she started speaking, and the charismatic look faded. Instead of sharing feelings about the possibility she saw for adding value to her new organization, she was furrowing her brow and broadcasting her feelings of discomfort.
To be charismatic, you have to cut through the internal-external clutter and allow your feelings to flow with what you’re saying.
3. Connect with your own rhythm
Another key to being charismatic is to connect with your rhythm. You can’t be charismatic if you pepper your speaking with “ahs,” “ers,” “you knows,” and any other word splutters. Think of your irritation when you get a broken signal from a poor Wi-Fi connection during your favorite show. It’s frustrating and inconvenient.
Be wary of word splutters. One of the easiest ways to reduce it is to go for a walk and get into a rhythm that feels right for you. Be sure to stop clenching your body and let your arms swing. Now start talking—about anything—and make your walking do the leading. Let your words do the following. By allowing your movements to flow with your speaking, you’ll allow your audience to flow with you. Rhythms are an anchor for being charismatic.
Being charismatic isn’t about having a high-profile job, a large social media following, or being a musical superstar. It’s about being able to connect with people and make them feel special when you’re talking to them or delivering a speech in front of them. That starts with being present with yourself, understanding how you’re feeling, and getting into a rhythm that works for you. They may be simple changes, but they definitely go a long way.