Learn to Be Charismatic



BY JEN OLENICZAK BROWN

Think of the last time you went to a show or saw a movie and you just couldn’t take your eyes off of the actor. It wasn’t because they were doing strange or weird things, and if you were asked exactly what made them so irresistible to watch, you might not be able to put your finger on it.

Have you felt that way watching a public speaker, or maybe someone in a meeting? That magic that happens when someone can hold the audience’s attention without fail is impressive: it’s also often charisma, and research shows it can be learned.

Sure, you’ll have to develop confidence on your own and that’s going to take a few extra bits of effort, but Charismatic Leadership Tactics (CLTs) are a set of skills that people can learn and refine to be seen as charismatic. These techniques are equally successful in professional and personal communication. There are about 16 CLTs, some more effective than others, and some are easily employed in your day-to-day communication. Here are three you can immediately start using:

Stories and anecdotes
The use of story is an amazing public speaking tactic. Think about it – we’re all connected by experiences, and we bond by sharing like experiences. Stories are an excellent way to share these experiences and bonds, and are fairly easy to start using or refine.

If you’re starting with stories, remember that too many details can sink any great story, and every story needs a beginning, middle and end. No matter what level storyteller you are, it’s important to know why you’re telling the story. To entertain? To inform? To evoke emotion? If you understand your why and purpose for telling the story, you’ll be able to do it to the best of your ability.
Reflection of the group’s sentiments
Emotional Intelligence and Empathy are buzz words in the workplace. It seems like no matter where you turn, you’ve got an empathy “expert” asserting how you can connect with your coworkers and essentially learn how to show human behavior.
Lucky for most of us, we can generally understand how other people are feeling by paying attention to words, facial expressions and body language. If you notice everyone looks a little stressed in the next meeting you’re in, you have a choice: you can sit there quietly and absorb all of that weird and semi-negative energy, or you can say, “I think we are all feeling a little stressed.” By recognizing this emotion as well as calling it out, you are showing that you understand the people around you.

Don’t just jump into this one without practice, though. We might be in situations where speaking up about the general feeling of the room isn’t a great idea, and for those, you can reflect one on one with colleagues or other folks that you might be connected with in the room. Don’t overthink the emotions, but don’t assume. Take some time to listen and pay attention first.

Animated voice, facial expressions and gestures
This is a three for one! Vocal variance, facial expressions and gestures go hand in hand in hand, and make for a dynamic speaker. If you’re trying to work on your cadence, or how your voice moves through space, try going faster than usual, slower than usual (not like a robot! Speak with emphasis!), at a higher or lower tone. This is going to feel incredibly contrived at first, but the more you do it, the more you’ll find some fun changes that you can naturally incorporate.
By moving your voice around, you will automatically start to change your facial expressions. Smiling while you talk is also a great way to change your tone: try it! It automatically brightens what you’re saying. Finally, gestures can be the bane of some folks’ existence.  A good rule of thumb is to make the gesture or don’t. The half-hearted gestures look exactly that, and if you’re simply doing repetitive gestures, you’ll look nervous, not charismatic.

In the end, charisma is confidence, so try these on for size before your next important conversation!


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