Let’s face it. People with charisma — that special personality trait that attracts others to them and makes them likable — seem to get ahead in life. Whether one is interviewing for a job, making a sales pitch, giving a talk, or networking at a social gathering, charisma increases the chance of success.
I’ve long believed that charisma is a trait that one is either born with, or not. However, after doing some research, I’m a little more open to the possibility that the average person can build charismatic qualities. Following are 10 tips to increase your own charisma:
- One of the most important aspects of charisma is to be genuine. People will eventually see through insincerity, so strive to be true to yourself. There’s no substitute for honesty and integrity.
- Improve eye contact when speaking with others. This can be challenging for introverts like myself, but a little practice can really help you make a connection with other people.
- Smile. There’s nothing quite like a warm, natural smile to connect with someone on a deeper level.
- Have a firm handshake, but not an aggressive one. Your hand should be vertical, and you should maintain eye contact and smile. Don’t use the handshake as a power play or an act of machismo.
- Improve your posture. If your shoulders are slumped forward and your face is looking downwards, you won’t exude power or confidence. Stand up straight and tall, shoulders naturally back, with a somewhat wide stance.
- Whoever you are speaking with at the moment, make them feel like the most important person in the room. Show interest in what they are saying and ask open-ended questions. Aim to improve your listening skills rather than formulate your response while they speak.
- Compliment people. Compliments should be specific if possible (i.e. “That shirt looks really sharp on you.” vs. “You look nice today.”). More importantly, compliments should be authentic. If you toss out compliments like candy, you may come across as desperate or like you want something from the other person.
- How something is said is just as important, if not more so, than what is said. Have the correct tone of voice and body language for that specific occasion.
- Enhance your voice. We are largely stuck with the voice we have, but you can bring out the best of what is available by breathing deep into your belly via your nose and breathing out slowly through your mouth. Reduce the intonation at the end of your sentences so people don’t falsely assume that you are unsure of yourself. Project your voice as best as you can, depending on your environment. Your tempo should be slow and measured, with pauses for important points.
- Pause. Don’t underestimate the power of the pause. It can make you appear more thoughtful, and it gives your listener a chance to absorb what you just said. It can also add drama or power to what you say next. If someone asks you a question, pause for a second or two before replying.
There are also a couple of interesting points I’d like to make. One is that a person’s level of charisma can fluctuate on any given day, so it’s not fixed. The other point is that one can be both introverted and charismatic, so introverts shouldn’t feel that they will never have the charm of an outgoing person.
I still think there is a natural level of charm that some people have that cannot be learned, but the tips above will enhance your charisma and hopefully help you move up in life.