THERE is a myth that charisma is something you are either born with or not. While some exude charisma unconsciously, this does not mean it is unavailable to the rest of us.

Charisma is like a musical or sporting talent. A rare few are “naturals” but most can become good with awareness and application.

Firstly, you need to be aware of what creates the perception of charisma and then have the discipline to apply the principles.


Let your charisma out

Picasso said: “We are all born artists, the challenge is to remain an artist as you grow up.” It’s the same with charisma. Most of us have buried our charisma in our lack of confidence or a misguided desire to be more “grown up”.

But it’s still there. You just have to turn on the switch.

Norma Jeane Baker was considered unremarkable with no charisma, until she flicked the switch and became Marilyn Monroe — charisma personified. This is not to suggest that you present a false image; you do a great self-impersonation.

Now, some might say that’s just faking it. Even so, it is a valid strategy. Professor Amy Cuddy of Harvard and Assistant Professor Dana Carney of University of California, Berkeley, conducted research on how changing your body language impacts your state of mind.

It proved that when you force yourself to act more confidently, you change the hormone levels that determine your level of confidence.

Anyone who has taken on a leadership role will have experienced this effect. Because of your title, you feel you need to “live up to the role” and, in doing so, you actually start to feel more confident.


Make them feel special

Mr Marshall Goldsmith, author and coach to successful chief executive officers, has distinguished between the “almost great” and the “truly great”.  He says the “truly great” can make you feel like the only person in the room when talking to you.

This is a skill that can be mastered by anyone — to focus on what the other person is saying, and not:

â–       Looking over his shoulder for someone else;

â–       Feeling in your pocket to check your phone; or

â–       Waiting for him to pause so you can tell him your great story.

Charismatic people feel confident enough to build others up by showering compliments. Many of us shy away from giving compliments because we are worried about seeming unctuous, missing the opportunity to make someone else’s day.

Often, unexpected compliments make the most pleasant memories. Remember, it all comes back to your intent, so don’t worry about what others think. They will be able to sense if you intend to make them feel good, or make yourself look good.


Small talk is big

People think small talk is unimportant, but it is the way rapport is developed, connections made and impressions created.

The technique of small talk is easy, yet even some professionals find it difficult. Here is the basic principle: If you can get someone to talk for most of the time, he will think you are a brilliant conversationalist.

Many people worry about what to say, when the question should be “What can I get them to say?” And the answer is easy. Everybody loves talking about themselves. Get them talking about themselves, use positive body language, ask them more about what they are telling you and they will love you.


Don’t take yourself so seriously

Charisma is linked to wit. Those with the confidence to show their witty side are perceived to be charismatic.

Our sense of humour is often put aside because we want to appear more “serious”.

This is a mistake. While people do want to deal with serious professionals, it is also true they would rather deal with someone who doesn’t take himself too seriously. Appropriate use of humour has been proven to improve your persuasive powers.


All of these principles can be developed and practised. But like all new skills, your dedication to applying them will determine your success.


Article by Kevin Ryan, managing director of Training Edge Australia and an international speaker, workshop leader and author with Training Edge International. He is an experienced conference speaker, workshop leader, facilitator and emcee. Contact him at or visit