I used to think you’re either born charismatic or you’re not. After all, it’s an otherworldly quality that makes one seem like they descended from the heavens.
But when you break down the components of what makes one charismatic, it turns out it’s a very human trait — one that can be learned just like you learn to make layups or write in cursive.
The key is understanding that it’s not something you can just turn on. Instead, charisma is the result of several habits deeply ingrained in your subconscious. And the great thing about habits is that anyone can develop them if they’re just willing to practice.
So if you’re ready to put in the work, here are seven ways to become charismatic. Read on.
1. Practice Speaking Slowly
Watch this compilation of presidential speeches. Notice how they all speak slowly and aren’t afraid to pause.
Speaking slowly tells the audience you’re confident about what you’re saying. Whether you’re giving a speech, interviewing for a job or flirting with the opposite sex, it shows your audience you’re worth listening to. You’re not in a hurry because you know your words are important and carry weight.
Build this skill by speaking slowly in a few conversations every day. Pause between your sentences. Believe what you’re saying is important and deserves to be heard. When you notice people are paying more attention to your words, you’ll start to do it naturally.
2. Listen Intentionally
One of charismatic people’s greatest superpowers is making you feel like you’re understood. It’s a major reason we find them magnetic: we are naturally drawn towards those who believe we matter.
How do they achieve this? By listening.
That means giving you their undivided attention when you’re talking. Waiting until you finish your sentence before they start theirs. Actively absorbing and processing your words.
Practice this every day. When you’re in a conversation, drop everything and listen to what the other party is saying. Make eye contact and empathize with their situation. Respond with thoughts that come from the heart.
When you truly listen to someone, they will open up to you. And the more they open up, the more influence you have in their world.
3. Reveal Your Weaknesses From the Get-Go
Several years ago, I had the opportunity to hear Marcus Lemonis (the host of CNBC’s hit show The Profit) speak to an audience of 200 people.
I’ll remember it for the rest of my life. Why? Because he opened with the confession that he was raped as a child.
Rape is one of the worst tragedies a human being can suffer, but that wasn’t why his speech was memorable. Instead, it was the fact that he introduced himself to a room full of strangers with his darkest secret.
This is a powerful way to build charisma. When you reveal your deepest insecurities, you’re showing everyone who you truly are. No makeup, no pretensions, no masks. Just you.
This allows people to trust you because you no longer have anything to hide. Marcus’ speech was a compelling example of this in action. After talking about his rape, he opened the floor to anyone who wanted to share their struggles. Audience members jumped at the chance to connect with him. Tears flowed. It was all incredibly cathartic.
As noted earlier, the more people feel like they can open up to you, the more influence you have in their world.
4. Practice Positive Self-Talk
Confidence and charisma go hand and hand.
The more you believe in yourself, the more others believe in you. Charismatic people may be naturally self-confident, but you can develop the same mindset by repeating affirming thoughts to yourself.
Here are a few mantras to practice:
- “I deserve this”
- “I was born to do this”
- “I believe I’m here to do great things”
- “I’m proud of my accomplishments”
- “I am more than capable”
When you hold these ideas to be true, you carry yourself with more certainty and poise. In turn, this makes everything you do more convincing to those around you.
5. Practice Good Posture
Some people draw attention just by walking into the room. How? Excellent posture.
Posture is one of the most powerful signals of confidence. It indicates health and exudes leadership. Take a moment to Google your favorite celebrity or public speaker. There’s a 95% chance they have excellent posture — shoulders back, neck straight, hips aligned.
I like Bernie Sanders, but compare his hunchback posture to Joe Biden’s upright stance in this photo. From a physical standpoint, Bernie looks frail while Biden looks ready to handle any challenge.
Building excellent posture isn’t complicated, but it does take a lot of work. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of exercises that strengthen your spine and straighten your neck. Head to YouTube for an excellent starting point.
6. Speak Passionately
Another hallmark of charisma is the ability to get others excited about your vision.
Watch the way Tony Robbins delivers this message. He waves his hands, paces the stage and all but shouts his speech. In simple terms, he makes no effort to hide his overflowing passion for the subject at hand.
You don’t have to be as animated as Tony Robbins to show excitement, but practice letting your inner energy come forth. Talk about subjects you’re passionate about with strangers at the grocery store or on the subway. Debate your friends on topics you feel strongly about.
If you’re having trouble getting excited about something, print out a speech by a speaker you admire and emulate their tone and speaking patterns. This teaches you how passionate people express themselves.
When you speak with conviction, people listen.
7. Control Your Emotions
Charismatic people know when to stifle their emotions and when to release them.
This interview is exhibit A on what this looks like. Love him or hate him, observe how Jordan Peterson stays perpetually calm despite being constantly attacked.
Rising above your emotions is not easy, but it’s doable. There are three great ways to develop this skill. First, practice meditation. Meditation teaches you to observe your emotions rather than identify with them. The better you get at it, the more you realize that emotions are like clouds: if you let them be, they will eventually drift away on their own.
Second, exercise regularly. Exercise gives you control over your body, both physically and mentally. Pushing through a tough work out lets you develop the resilience you need to master your mind.
Finally, practice keeping your eyes on the prize. Frequently remind yourself what your ultimate goal is. When you do this, you quickly realize that emotions are just temporary distractions that prevent you from reaching your final destination. This makes it easier to sideline your anger and frustration.
Notice a Trend?
The common thread in each of these habits is self-control. Whether it’s conveying passion, revealing your weaknesses or listening to others, we are drawn to those who have mastered themselves physically and mentally.
In many ways, charisma is simply the art of self-control.
To develop it, work at these habits like you would if you were learning anything else. The more you practice, the better you get.
You may not have been born with charisma, but these strategies enable you to build it from scratch. Embrace them and soon you’ll be able to command any room with your presence.