I recently spent a few days attending and speaking at a powerful conference called Gathering of Titans. While there, I had the opportunity to watch several captivating speakers and networkers strut their stuff. These were people who not only had an important message to share, they knew how to work a room and completely charm the people with whom they interacted. They were the very embodiment of charisma. On more than one occasion, I thought to myself, “What a powerful gift! Why are some more charismatic than others? Is there a secret? Can you improve your own charisma?”
Turns out you can. Science has pinpointed several behaviors and choices as the key to enhancing your own personal charisma. One professor of organizational behavior, John Antonakis, has even written an analysis of what he calls Charismatic Leadership Tactics (CLTs).
While journalists like Adam Piori and speakers such as Bart Campolo warn that charismatic people can also be selfish and manipulative, they do insist that anyone can use CLTs with some intention and practice. Here are five techniques you can use to start enhancing your own personal charm and become more likable, persuasive, and magnetic. But, please, use your powers for good.
1. Engage the skeptics first.
If you are preparing to give a talk or a sales pitch, look for the people at the back or sides of the room, the ones who have their arms crossed, are playing with devices, or who seem otherwise disengaged. Go up and talk to them before the official start of the presentation. Ask them about themselves. Solicit their input about the room, the company, or another related topic. If you can make them like you, your work will get much easier.
2. Start with emotional identification.
Emotion can easily triumph over reason. Every marketer knows that. You can tap into instinct and impulsivity if you get people focused on their own emotional experience from the very beginning. Ask them how they are feeling. Use lots of descriptive words. Research the demographic to learn its opinion on your topic, and refer frequently to the feelings they have shared.
3. Make them feel valued.
Many choices are fueled by negative feelings like fear, vulnerability, and isolation. Find ways to make your audience feel liked, respected, and protected with the careful use of compliments, validation of their feelings, and confirmation of their worth. Don’t lay it on too thick. Start with a little affirmation, then move on to your topic.
4. Show them you’ve got their backs.
Most people want to believe that someone is on their side. They are looking for someone to validate their opinions, stand up for their rights, or just empathize with their concerns. If you can tell them “Yes, I see where you’re coming from and I think you have a point,” they will open up to you.
5. Give them hope.
If something is currently troubling your audience, they are probably waiting for someone to tell them that it will all be okay. Find out what their pain is, tell them it can be resolved, and then show them your plan for the ideal solution.