Charismatic people take charge of situations and then they change those situations so that they appear confident. 

Shared group membership matters

Research by Sharif Tajfel and others suggests that shared group membership matters, and agents should carefully manage perception that they are part of the team will be much better able to influence. Wearing the right clothing helps saying the right things makes a difference too.

Another agent characteristic that can have a huge impact on the success or failure of an influence attempt: charisma. Charisma which focuses even more on saying the right things in the right way is often considered a magic quality leadership that arouses loyalty and enthusiasm.

And if you think of it as a rare and magical quality you might also think that we’re back to facial features and other immutable characteristics of agents. But, there’s actually a growing body of evidence suggesting that with training anyone can become more charismatic.

Tips on charismatic speaking

A study by John Antonakis, Marika Fenley and Sue Liechti, all from the University of Lausanne compared managers who receive charisma training to those who did not. While the groups were similar before training the trained group showed higher levels of charisma after training, according to their colleagues back at work.

So the training worked, but what exactly did it include? One of the authors hosted a five hour training session with lots of discussion and practice. In addition trainees were given feedback about the ways in which they were and were not charismatic. They were also given tips on charismatic speaking which involves: using metaphors and stories, setting high expectations, having confidence.

Charismatic speakers demonstrated passion with gestures and animated voice tone. We will actually discuss these ideas again in the later article but for our purposes here you should know that learners were given feedback and opportunities to practice both verbal and nonverbal behaviors.

Just make yourself confident and passionate

And, as a result they became more charismatic leaders at work. So charisma really isn’t some magical inborn ability, it’s something that anyone can develop with feedback and targeted practice. Certainly not all of us have the time and resources to get hours of training and coaching that participants in the Antonakis study received but not all is lost.

Olivia Fox Cabane, a consultant and frequent trainer on the topic of charisma, published a book called The charisma myth, in the book she offers plenty of helpful advice that anyone can learn from. For example, Cabane notes to people who were judged charismatic are typically competent and passionate and convey this through posture gestures and vocal tones.

She argues that the path for all of us is clear. Don’t try to act, just make yourself confident and passionate. But how do we do that? According to Cabane charisma begins in the mind and what your mind believes your body manifests. As a result, she offers a series of exercises to help people become more confident.

Charismatic people take charge of situations

Much of that begins with ridding yourself of physical and psychological discomfort
to deal with physical discomfort which can make you fidget and look anxious Cabane argues that you should prevented when possible, but when discomfort does occur you need to recognize and remedy it right away.

This suggests if you are uncomfortable you should act on it rather than assume that people won’t notice. Charismatic people take charge of situations and then they change those situations so that they appear confident.