There are two types of people in the world. Those who come in the room and say, 'Well, here I am!' and those who come into the room and say 'Ah, there you are!'
- Frederick Collins, Writer
I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
- Maya Angelou
How to be more charismatic
A BBC news report about a study by Professor Richard Wiseman, which found that people who used their personalities to impress a panel of judges went progressed the furthest in the competition.
This also means we can too learn charisma. It is not a gift most people are born with.
A summary of Professor Wiseman's suggestions to be more charismatic:
1. Have a presence: Confident, open body posture, hands away from face when talking, stand up straight, relax, hands apart with palms forwards or upwards.
2. Dealing with an individual: Let people know they matter and you enjoy being around them, develop a genuine smile, nod when they talk, briefly touch them on the upper arm, and maintain eye contact.
3. Dealing with a group: Be comfortable as leader, move around to appear enthusiastic, lean slightly forward and look at all parts of the group.
4. Having a message: Move beyond status quo and make a difference, be controversial, new, simple to understand, counter-intuitive. Stand for something.
5. Being good with speech: Be clear, fluent, forceful and articulate, evoke imagery, use an upbeat tempo, occasionally slow for tension or emphasis.
6. Practice and mirror the qualities that you find likable (real life, history, fiction)
Napoleon Bonaparte was perhaps one of the most, if not the most, charismatic leaders in history. For almost 20 years, he got his soldiers to fight for something bigger than all of them (when they were fighting in Egypt, he told them 'From the heights of these pyramids, forty centuries look down on us'), became famous for his saying 'an army marches on its stomach', and even when he was finally defeated by a big coalition of nations, there was no dearth of people willing to give him company in his exile, even the English sailors on his ship admired him for his achievements and for his behavior.
Charisma was Napoleon's biggest weapon.
7. Using Charisma during a speech
- When giving a speech, capture an audience's attention by looking at one of them intently (twinkling eyes) and others will notice you are really talking to all of them, and you now have charisma.
- Generally, someone speaking in a low-pitched voice is always perceived as big and dominant, while someone speaking in a high voice is perceived as small and submissive.
Lower the intonation of your voice at the end of your sentences. ('The Charisma Myth', by Olivia Fox Cabane)
- Pause for two seconds before you speak.
8. Practice Self-compassion/self-acceptance: Charismatic people are emotionally resilient, and are generally more okay with themselves than others are.
They accept everything within themselves, even errors, and cool with the fact that no one is perfect.
This one is this writer's favorite.
What charisma isn't
Popular media has made us believe that charisma suggests a person's popularity, or celebrity, which is only a product of carefully choreographed publicity campaign, and has nothing to do with the sheer presence, power and warmth a really charismatic person projects. Good luck finding warmth with your favorite celebrity.
To put it simply, charisma resides in eye of the beholder, not in the practiced handshakes and empty smiles.
Thank you for reading.
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