By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:
The basics of public speaking aren't that hard to learn. But among even experienced speakers and persuaders, some seem to be more magnetic than others. That factor, charisma, makes the speaker more interesting and the content more likely to seem clear and influential. It is believed that the charisma factor played an evolutionary role in allowing some individuals to gain followers, which led to the rise of communities and governments. Today, charisma helps not just in determining elections, but in everyday persuasion and influence, building the likability that is a key factor in credibility. Charisma has a dark side that was studied extensively following World War II, as researchers asked how some leaders manage to mobilize large parts of the population to embrace or allow terrible things. But it also has a bright side, an attraction factor for every communicator that can make every other aspect of their communication more effective.
So what goes into charisma? Despite it being labeled as a kind of "X-factor," the components of charisma are fairly well researched. Rather than being mysterious or innate, it boils down to some identifiable qualities. Some of those qualities you probably can't control. For example, a recent piece in The Atlantic reports on a Dutch study showing that taller men are considered more charismatic. Studies (von Hippel et al., 2016) also suggest that quick thinkers who are naturally witty and humorous are more charismatic. While you can't simply become taller or increase your mental processing speed at will, there are some other ingredients to charisma that are more open to your conscious control. In this post, I will review a handful of documented techniques to help you create charisma.