How to Be More Charismatic in 4 Minutes

Contrary to popular belief, charisma is not something you’re born with. When Marilyn Monroe turned off her charisma, she managed to blend into the subway crowd with no one noticing her. Yet, once she turned it back on, her fans recognized her and flocked to her. Charisma is actually a set of learned behaviors that can be switched on and off by changing your body language.

Charismatic people are listened to, respected and admired, which gives them a real advantage in life:

  • In work and business, charisma can help you to get a job, get your ideas heard and adopted, attract talents, make people want to work with you and implement your ideas. Charismatic people are also perceived to be more productive and get better performance reviews.
  • In your personal life, charisma can help you to influence friends, family members, peers and your community.
The Three Keys to Charisma

Being present is about paying full attention to what’s happening rather than being lost in your own thoughts. Presence can’t be faked. If you’re not fully present in a conversation, others can sense it via subtle signs like your glassy eyes or delayed reactions. They may feel offended or think that you’re inauthentic, which hinders trust and rapport.

Power is your perceived ability to impact others. It comes from many factors, including your appearance, perceived wealth, expertise and social status.

Warmth is about perceived goodwill, or whether others think you’ll use your power in their interest. It’s derived purely from your body language.


In our complete version of The Charisma Myth summary, we further elaborate on:

  • 2 main obstacles — physical and mental discomfort — which disrupt your state of mind and reduce your charisma; and
  • 3 key strategies for overcoming these physical-mental obstacles.


Once you can manage your discomforts, you’re ready to create an optimal mental state. Presence, power and warmth are conveyed mainly through your body language, which is impossible to control consciously. To project charisma, you must start by managing your internal state of mind.

If you’re in a charismatic mental state, your body will automatically convey charismatic body language. If you’re in a non-charismatic mental state, no amount of technical skills can mask your underlying thoughts and feelings.

Marilyn Monroe knew how to turn on/off her charisma to captivate entire crowds

Visualization techniques

The neural pathways in your brain are like muscles — the more you use them, the stronger they become. You can use visualization to develop any desired trait or mental state. For example:

To build confidence, visualize successes and achieving your goals:

  1. Close your eyes, relax, and recall an incident when you felt like a champion (e.g. getting promoted, winning an award).
  2. Experience that moment fully, using all your senses to see, hear and feel your success and confidence.
  3. You can amplify the feelings with motivational music, success phrases/axioms or use movements associated with confidence (e.g. punching your hand in the air).
  • To reduce anxiety, visualize receiving a 20-second hug. This triggers the release of oxytocin in your body to counter anxiety.
  • Or, think of someone who epitomizes the traits or mental state you wish to have (e.g. wisdom, warmth, serenity) and visualize them as your personal coach or counsellor.


There are 4 main charisma styles — focus, visionary, kindness and authority — which are the most practical for daily application. Focus charismatics (e.g. Elon Musk, Bill Gates) are fully present — they make people feel heard, respected and understood. Visionary charismatics (e.g. Steve Jobs, George Bush) move people with their passion, conviction and an altruistic/noble vision. Kindness charismatics (e.g. Dalai Lama, Princess Diana) emit warmth and full acceptance through their eyes and body language. Authority charismatics (e.g. Adolf Hitler, Margaret Thatcher) project so much power and confidence that people tend to listen and obey.

The Four Styles of Charisma

The ideal charismatic style depends on your personality, the situation and your goals.


Early in his career, Steve Jobs struggled on stage, but he pretty quickly learned his charisma style

Communicating with charisma by:

  1. creating positive first impressions
  2. listening and speaking with charisma
  3. projecting charisma with your body language

Presenting with charisma by:

  1. constructing a charismatic message
  2. creating a charismatic appearance
  3. rehearsing and warming up effectively
  4. projecting power, presence and warmth on the stage

Managing difficult situations with charisma including:

  1. handling difficult people
  2. delivering bad news
  3. delivering criticism
  4. handling mistakes
  5. managing crises

All of us have the potential to be charismatic. Use low-stake situations to learn and practice the skills/behaviors in this book until they become second-nature to you.

Insights taken from Olivia Fox Cabane’s The Charisma Myth

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