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15 Ways to Improve Your Charisma

You recognize them by the twinkle in their eye, their smile that oozes confidence (but not arrogance), and that certain something you can't quite put your finger on, but that draws you in, makes you want more of them.


Experts say while 50 percent of charisma is innate, the other half is trained, which means everyone has an opportunity to hone their charisma skills.

That "something" is charisma, and it's what sets a great orator apart from an ordinary speaker, a salesperson of the year apart from a mediocre one -- even a beloved president apart from a losing candidate.

The word "charisma" comes from the Greek word 'charis,' or grace, and people who possess it have gained a great advantage. A number of studies have found that people are genuinely drawn to charismatic individuals, and are more willing to buy from them, be influenced by them and even vote for them in a presidential election.

"Elections are supposed to be about issues . . . but a number of ingenious experiments show that how a politician looks and comes across to voters can make a huge difference in the outcome of an election," wrote Shankar Vedantam in a November Washington Post article.

50 Percent of Charisma is Innate, but 50 Percent is Trained

According to British professor and psychologist Richard Wiseman, charisma is so influential that people naturally want to mimic the body language and facial expressions of someone with charisma.

"When you see someone else who has charisma, without realizing it, you're mimicking their posture and their facial expressions," says Wiseman. "An obvious example is when someone smiles at you and you smile back. And how you hold yourself influences your emotions ... You're unaware you're mimicking this person, although you know they make you feel happy."

Wiseman points out that charismatic people exhibit three attributes:

  • They feel emotions strongly

  • They induce emotions in others

  • They are not influenced by other charismatic people

If you want to be more charismatic (and thereby increase your chances of everything from finding your true love to getting a promotion at work), there's good news.

While about 50 percent of charisma is innate, Wiseman says that the other 50 percent is trained ... which means everyone can learn how to be charismatic.

How do You Present Yourself to the World?

how do you present yourself

Simple, everyday actions can make all the difference in whether you're perceived by others as charismatic and confident. For instance, do you greet people with a firm handshake and steady gaze, or avert your eyes and walk the other way? Are you eager to hear what others tell you, or do you shut them out mentally as soon as they begin to talk?

With the following quiz you can find out just how assertively you come across to other people, and where your level of charisma falls.

Find Out How You Present Yourself to the World Now!

"There are some people who are just lucky buggers and are just naturally charismatic, like Johnny Depp, David Bowie and Marilyn Monroe," says broadcaster and confidence tutor Jeremy Milnes. "But I honestly believe that these are techniques and skills which can be learned and practiced and can be made part of your own behavior."

15 Tips to Develop Your Charisma

  1. Assume every person you meet is important, and treat him or her as such.

  2. Shake hands strongly and firmly (and, even better, say something positive while doing so).

  3. Keep an open body posture, with your hands away from your face while speaking.

  4. Stand up straight and tall, but not rigidly.

  5. When speaking to a group, speak conversationally from a bulleted list (not by reading from a script).

  6. Take the time to remember people's names, and use them in conversation.

  7. Look at the color of people's eyes (they will notice the extra attention you're giving them).

  8. Compliment people freely (as long as the compliments are sincere).

  9. Notice and acknowledge people's strengths and accomplishments.

  10. Use pauses while you speak to create emphasis.

  11. Take care of your outside appearance (look your best).

  12. Smile, ideally a little bit longer than the person you're looking at.

  13. Hear the emotions in people's words, and respond to them.

  14. Use positive body language, including maintaining eye contact, briefly touching a person on the upper arm, and moving around while you speak.

  15. Be genuinely interested in those around you (ask them their opinions, inquire about their life and interests, listen and don't interrupt).

Recommended Reading

How Your Body Language Conveys Confidence, Intelligence and Trust ... or a Lack There of

How to Overcome Your Fear of Failure


BBC News

The Star-Ledger

The Santa Fe New Mexican

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