Charismatic people have the ability to influence and lead people. They possess the power of persuasion. They also tend to be more on the extroverted side. Charismatic individuals make sure they express genuine interest in what matters to others. People who have charisma speak from a centered truth with conviction and authority. They exude realism, confidence, and passion. They repeat and underscore their points. They have good voice inflection and have a natural power in their voices. You’ll never catch a charismatic person speaking in a monotone manner. Charismatic speakers are also organized and succinct, whether they’re on stage or in a team meeting. They keep their messages concise, cutting out any distractions or unnecessary “word salads.”
Years ago, I attended an annual conference for the Enterprise Software Solutions industry. At the opening event, the keynote speaker came in with a bang to get the crowd ready for what was going to be a spectacular conference. I always like watching polished public speakers in action so I can pick up tips to improve my own performance. This particular speaker was a pretty impressive guy, especially for the high-tech industry. He radiated a lot of personality, and the crowd seemed mesmerized. He was funny and intelligent, but as I watched, I realized he didn’t seem very connected with the audience. While he was very entertaining, he seemed sort of distant or unrelatable, and that made him a little hard to believe.
I waited until his presentation was over and approached him to get a feel for his offstage personality. To my surprise and disappointment, he was rather aloof. It was strange because, onstage, he projected this enormous personality that was friendly, outgoing, and animated. But when it came down to a one-on-one connection, he seemed like a fish out of water. I was intrigued by his demeanor, so I continued trying to connect with him. What dawned on me is that he lacked authenticity.
Authentic charisma is energy that emits from within. It is a true comfort with oneself and a genuine interest in others. While I was trying to have a conversation with the speaker, he seemed to look through me instead of at me—he was missing that genuine interest, and I realized that that was what I had seen onstage that had soured me on his presentation. He was a great actor and speaker, but what he projected onstage wasn’t who he embodied offstage, and that makes all the difference in true charisma. While this gentleman was an exceptionally good speaker with tremendous articulation skills, his inauthenticity undermined his charisma in the end.