Can you develop charisma?

I’m a speaker, speech writer and speaking coach.  I work with very capable people, helping them to show their brilliance to the rest of the world.  Charisma is a subject that often comes up in discussion. It’s something that many of my clients would give their right arms to ‘be’.  But most of them worry that charisma is beyond them.  My job is to show them that it’s a natural part of them, and that becoming charismatic is simply a matter of recognising what ‘it’ is and ‘switching it on’ when necessary.

If you accept this definition of Charisma as-

“the ability to transfer an emotion that the speaker has to the audience.”

Then it’s not difficult for anyone to ‘do’. It suggests that charisma is not the weird, in-built blessing of myth and legend, possessed by JFK, Martin Luther King Jr. and Winston Churchill, it defines charisma as a set of skills, habits and beliefs that everyone has inside them, but few of us know how to use.  Because from the sulky teen, to the grumpy senior manager, by that definition, there’s charisma in everybody.

Here’s an interesting blog post The charismatic mindset from Alchemy for Managers website, that suggests a few ways of developing the mental side of being charismatic.  It asks you how you can  be charismatic without understanding-

  • that how you perceive the world around you will be projected and magnified in every aspect of your life? Or,
  • that the emotions you feel regularly will act as a magnet and attract more of those same emotions.  Rage at the injustice of life, boredom with your subject, for instance?
  • that every individual you meet has an interesting lesson or insight for you to learn, if you choose to?  And if you do you’ll communicate that to them as respect and value.
  • that very individual’s life has a purpose that they see as being important to them? And therefore your equal in many ways and your superior in some too.
Key Lesson–  In order to transfer an emotion to an audience, first we have to it feel it in ourselves and recognise what it is. Skilful charismatic speakers tend to choose which emotions they have and share when they’re on stage. Charismatic speakers who are unskilled, will leave all of that ’emotional stuff’ to chance, and carry on seeming bored, disaffected, disconnected, diffident and detached from their message, their audience and themselves. Gordon Brown anyone?


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