Tuesday March 3, 2009
Jodi Goldman - Communications manager
Finding the elusive charisma
Recently I have been coaching a singer who appears regularly on stage in front of audiences small and large (sometimes as many as 30,000 people) though lacks something. He is, quite justifiably, sure about his talent - but like a lot of people - believes that this talent (skills / experience) alone will be enough. But then he's constantly left wondering why it is that less able singers are successful at the auditions instead of him.
The thing about first impressions is, people don't have time to find out IF you have talent / skills / experience, they will have decided that before you have sung your first note. I have written about first impressions before, but now I want to hone into something that came out of my last session with this entertainer, it's the concept of charisma.
By its very definition, charisma is elusive and hard to explain. However I really like the following definition from Wikipedia. So I thought I would start there:
'The word charisma (origin from the greek word Ï‡Î¬Ï�Î¹ÏƒÎ¼Î± (kharisma), "gift" or "divine favour," refers to a rare trait found in certain human personalities usually including extreme charm and a 'magnetic' quality of personality and/or appearance along with innate and powerfully sophisticated personal communicability.'
Gift / divine favour there are two schools of thought really; one says that charisma is something you either have or you don't. And the other says while some people are born with it, it can be learned too.
I think that there are definitely those who are born with it, we all know people like this. Think back to your first few years at pre-school, then high school, university and work. There is always that one guy / girl: whom wasn't necessarily the best looking or the most talented though seemed to always command attention / respect / adoration.
Do I think it can be learned? Well, yes, to a degree. I don't think the innate 'thing' that makes someone charismatic can be learned, but I think the behaviours and some of the 'x-factors' can be acquired or mimicked. Like for example charm, magnetism and personal communicability.
Charm Charisma is the channeling of energy into those around you, if you are stressed or anxious you will channel negative energy and repel instead of attract people. Charm is about being relaxed and easy. It's about putting people at ease and making them feel good about themselves.
Treat people how they want to be treated and make people feel special. It's about treating everyone as equals no matter who they are. Frank Sinatra, a man of unquestionable charm and charisma was a master of this. And so was Princess Diana, both of them would flirt with everyone they met. They would treat everyone with equal respect and make them feel special. And in two completely different ways; we have Frank and his outgoing in-your- face approach; once buying a restaurant and giving it to a waiter after his manager had publicly humiliated him for spilling soup on Franks table. And Diana in her quiet subtle way would raise people up to her level, would look back at photographers and wink as if they shared a private joke.
Magnetism - charisma has a way of drawing people closer, making people want to get to know you, be like you, and listen to you. Magnetism is about making people feel sure about you, trust you, have faith in you. Research has shown that people who are perceived as charismatic also feel emotions strongly and can relate to other peoples feelings.
In order to appear confident, pay attention to your posture, handshake and eye contact. Charismatic people are proud of who they are and don't really care what others think, this is not the same as being arrogant. Smiling, and making eye contact will go along way.
Showing your emotions is very important. Being excited about things, interested in things, sad, angry, whatever. Charismatic people are in control of their emotions but don't suppress them. Take Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, both spoke with emotion, passion and with a positivity that was infectious.
Personal communication Charismatic people usually have excellent communication skills. This doesn't mean they necessarily are loud, or talk a lot. It does mean that what they do say is well thought out, and relevant.
Think before you speak. Don't talk for the sake of filling silence; silence can be golden after all. Think about what you want to say and say clearly and with conviction. Mean it and make it count.
Make sure your body language matches your message. If you say something, but your body language is contradicting you it will make people distrustful and unsure. I was absolutely in awe of Barak Obama's inaugural speech. He spoke with such clarity, his gestures matched perfectly to both is personality and the speech itself. He didn't 'um' or 'er' once, nor did he look down at a piece of paper. Politicians are clearly taught and schooled in the art of this, however they don't all get it right.
It amazed me that as an entertainer the concept of charisma hadn't really dawned on my 'coachee'. However when I think about it, I realise that in all industries and all areas it's the one thing that is the true magic ingredient, it doesn't matter how well you sing the song, its how you make your audience feel while you do it that counts.
Do you work with any truly charismatic people? If so share with us what you think sets them apart?
If this is something that you would like to find our more about why not attend one of our learning bites? Impact and influencing or maybe using voice and speech for success or how about our image and the brand you course?