Charisma is a crucial ingredient of business success.
Without it, it’s hard to influence others. Difficult to clinch sales. And damn near impossible to get to the top.
But it is widely assumed that charisma cannot be developed – you’ve either got it or you don’t.
I beg to differ. I’ve coached hundreds of business people on how to be more charismatic, with dramatically positive results.
Here’s some key tips to boost business charisma.
One of the most powerful ways to come across as charismatic is to really, really know your stuff. Too many intelligent and talented people wing it in meetings and major presentations. Sure, they know the basics, but question them a little further and you often find their knowledge is shallow.
This lowers their charisma in several ways. Firstly, they are just a tad unsure with their answers, as they don’t have a complete grasp of the subtle points of an issue. As a result, they can come across as less confident.
Secondly, because they have not fully mastered the issue they tend to speak less in meetings, and therefore, make less of an impression.
On the other hand, when you have truly prepared for a presentation well, knowing the issues better than anyone else in the room, you exude confidence. You speak up. You are not afraid to differ and make your point. You, therefore, are far more likely to be perceived as a dynamic, charismatic individual.
The person who asks the questions usually controls the meeting. And those that ask reasonably smart questions usually come across as intelligent and even wise – two elements that help build the perception of charisma. I have always found it interesting that it takes a lot less knowledge to ask a good question as it does to provide a good answer; yet, those who ask a lot of questions often end up giving the best impression.
Unfair or not, the fact remains that one of the most effective ways of appearing more charismatic is to increase the amount of questions you ask in important meetings. Try it and watch how many of the attendees start talking directly to you as a result. You become the center of the meeting.
Use your hands while speaking
It may seem strange, but observe somebody you know who exudes charisma and you’ll almost certainly notice that they use their hands a lot when they speak. Hand gesticulations make people seem more passionate, interested and are a clear sign of confidence – all important components of charisma.
If you question the importance of hand movements, watch someone who you feel is totally devoid of charisma. In most cases, they will deliver their points with almost no hand movements to aid them.
Be genuinely interested in the people you talk with
It seems somewhat illogical, but people are always impressed by somebody who seems really interested in what they are saying.
So many people are craving appreciation and respect, that if you look like you’re giving it to them they’ll become your raving fans.
Merely by listening to them intently and expressing great interest in the points people make, you will usually make a very positive impact on them. Even if you hardly say anything, they will view you as perspicacious simply because you showed the ‘wisdom’ to be riveted by their point of view. As the old saying goes, “To appear interesting be interested.”
When people come alive about their passions and hobbies, they immediately become a lot more charismatic. The more you’re into something, the more animatic your presenting style is. Passionate people are usually far more magnetic than those who are ambivalent.
Your passionate attitude should extend beyond your hobbies of course; if you can exude passion about many things, that enthusiasm will generally make you seem a more exciting person. Being bored with life is never equated with charisma.
Although there are definitely subdued people who emanate charisma, generally humans are attracted by strong, uplifting energy.
If you want to increase your charisma at work, lift your energy level. Being energetic in how you talk and move will make you more captivating. Most people judge people by the energy they give off (no doubt you’ve met plenty of people you just energetically didn’t feel good about). So, before you walk into an important meeting or sales presentation take a minute to center yourself and lift up your energy factor. It can make a major difference to people’s perception of you.
Closely aligned with energy comes optimism. As Professor Martin Seligman from the University of Pennsylvania has shown, most of us prefer to hang out with optimistic people. In a world where in most cases you can buy from several suppliers, it’s often those that we enjoy being with who get the deal.
Of course, I’m not talking about pie in the sky, Pollyanna thinking, I’m referring to intelligent, reasonable optimism- choosing to see the possibility in work situations, rather than only the downside. Optimism doesn’t just make us more charismatic, it’s also been shown to increase persistence and resilience – a crucial factor in work and life success, as several studies have shown (see Andrew Zolli’s excellent book, Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back for examples).
The more you look into charisma at work, the more you can see it is not some accidental attribute – it can be created and enhanced with simple, easy to apply strategies. So, in the next week, why not focus on one or two of the methods I’ve outlined and see if you can boost your charisma. In the business world, it’s a highly useful trait to have.
WORDS Siimon Reynolds
This article was originally written by website The Fortune Institute.