Charisma: What is it? And can it be learned?

What do you think charisma is? Is it an innate quality that only a few possess? Is it something that one is born with?

If you said, “yes,” then many people would agree with you. In fact, the second definition of the word “charisma” in the Oxford Dictionaries is “a divinely conferred power or talent.”

However, what if I told you that charisma can be learned?

What is charisma? And can it be learned?

The first definition for charisma that the Oxford Dictionaries gives is “compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others.” And I’m happy to say that yes you can learn to be compellingly attractive to others. This is something you can nurture in yourself at home, at work, and on the stage.

Here are some tips that will help you increase your charisma.

Charismatic People Make Eye Contact

Eye contact is the first step that people use to size up others on the first contact. It is also a signal of trust between people. If someone is untrustworthy, they will likely look away, even when they are talking.

In one-to-one conversations, this is obviously important. But it is also important as a speaker. When you make eye contact with your audience, you appear more authoritative, confident, believable and trustworthy. Eye contact also encourages eye contact, which, in turn, encourages audience engagement.

In Public Speaking Super Powers, I provide three exercises that can help you improve your eye contact. Here is one of them:

Working a Room with Eye Contact

Find three to five practice partners for this exercise.

    Step 1: Give a one- to two-minute speech to your mini-audience. Look at person #1 for 3 to 5 seconds – about the length of a sentence or thought. Then move to the next person.

    Step 2: Repeat looking at one person at a time for 3 to 5 seconds, until you’ve made contact with everyone in this mini-audience.

    Step 3: Go back to the first person and repeat this process until you’ve completed your speech.

This gets you used to giving a speech while maintaining eye contact with one person at a time.

Now repeat your speech, but this time make eye contact with each person randomly. Still connect with them as evenly as possible, but not in a recognizable pattern. This will get you used to moving your connection about the room in a random pattern, which is the ultimate goal.

Take an Interest in Others

Charismatic people engage with others. They are genuinely interested in others. When you are talking to someone, and when you are giving a presentation, make it about them. Use their self-centered instincts to your favor and play off of it. People like themselves and like when others talk about them in a favorable way. If you are that person to pump up others’ self-esteem, those people are going to be drawn to you. Think about how you feel when others tell positive stories about you.

Ways to Show Your Interest

Eye contact, as discussed above, is one way you show interest in your audience or the person you are speaking with. But there are other things you can do, as well.

  • Use people’s names. There is something magical about hearing your own name. So use a person’s name when responding to them. If you are speaking to an audience of more than one, be sure to learn the names of two or three people in the audience and direct comments to them by name. If you ask for audience participation, be sure to learn the names of the people who respond and use them.
  • Be relatable. When talking to one person, show that you understand where they are coming from by mirroring their stories back to them from moments in your life. When speaking to audience, use stories to which your audience and relate to illustrate your points.
  • Respect people’s time. Watch for cues that the person you are talking to may need to end the conversation. Don’t monopolize the conversation. And, when giving a presentation, keep to your time limits. If you’ve been given 15 minutes to speak, don’t keep speaking for 16 minutes or more!

Be Confident

Back in the 1970s, there was a commercial for Skin Bracer aftershave in which the actor Jack Palance says, “Confidence is sexy, isn’t it?” Yes it is … and it is charismatic, a well. People who have charisma also have confidence.

Confidence is something most people admire, as long as it doesn’t come across as being arrogant. When you are confident, people feel like you have the situation under control. Often, they will concede to that control putting you in a leadership role.

There are so many ways to increase your confidence, I can’t possibly cover them in this blog post. However, I do share eight of them in my free 7-Day Boost Your Confidence Challenge. If you want to improve your charisma through confidence, I suggest you check it out.

Charisma and Influence

Charismatic people have influence. If you start improving your charisma factor today, you will also improve your influence factor. I hope this post has encouraged you and helped you understand that charisma is within your reach.

Enroll in the free 7-Day Confidence Challenge

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About the author

Carma Spence, is author of Public Speaking Super Powers. She is fiercely committed to guiding women to Owning their Superpowers and turning their knowledge and interests into a profitable business. She is masterful at helping her clients see what is possible for them and supporting them on the journey from where they are to where they want to be, releasing the Mind Goblins of self-doubt, self-sabotage and second-guessing that keep them stuck.

With 20+ years experience in marketing communications and public relations, natural intuitive skills and certification in using some of the most effective transformational coaching tools available, Carma’s mission and commitment is to unleash the inner power every woman entrepreneur possesses so they can boldly go out into the world, transforming the fabric of people’s lives in meaningful and positive ways.

You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Her website is