Often when people approach me to improve their communication skills, they are looking for tips and tricks to improve their charisma. It is much more powerful to work over the long term to develop your character as a leader.

Character is formed over many, many years as you work to remove the pieces that are not part of who you want to be. Character is chiselled out of the rock, slowly removing all the dirt and excess before revealing the statue below.

  • Charisma is “compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others”. (on wikipedia)
  • Character is “an individual’s stable moral qualities. The concept of character can imply a variety of attributes including the existence or lack of virtues such as empathy, courage, fortitude, honesty, and loyalty, or of good behaviors or habits.” (on wikipedia)

What is charisma?   Charisma means “special gift” in Greek.  It is something that allows some people to magnetically attract others to them and their projects.

Is it innate or can it be learnt?  According to John Antonakis, Marika Fenley and Sue Liechti in the Harvard Business Review June 2012 article “Learning Charisma”, it is learnt.

How to Learn Charisma

“After executives were trained in these tactics, the leadership ratings observers gave them rose by about 60%.” John Antonakis

Learn these 17 Specific Charismatic Tactics

  1. Metaphors, Similes and Analogies
  2. Stories and Anecdotes
  3. Contrasts
  4. Rhetorical Questions
  5. Three Part Lists
  6. Expressions of Moral Conviction
  7. Reflection of Group’s Sentiments
  8. The setting of High Goals
  9. Conveying Confidence in High Goals
  10. Animated Voice
  11. Facial Expressions
  12. Gestures
  13. Create a Sense of Urgency
  14. Invoking History
  15. Using Repetition
  16. Talking about Sacrifice
  17. Humour

Practice these tactics with video (check out my email based course to lead you through 10 weeks of practice).  Practice these tactics with your peers.  Practice leads to doubling the usage of these tactics in everyday life.  Use of these tactics led to ratings of competence increasing by 60%.

These tactics work because they create an emotional connection between speaker and audience.

Check out the HBR June 2012 article Learning Charisma.