‘Learning to be like Obama’, the headline of an article in the Telegraph on Monday reporting that corporate high-fliers and politicians are queing up for charisma training. Apart from the obvious, that just now there is a distinct lack of charisma among our allowances buffeted politicians, what are we talking about?
The Collins dictionary definition reads “it is the quality or power of an individual to attract, influence or inspire people”. The rather more attractive Greek origin translates as ” the gift of grace”.
Is charisma an absolute? Some people have it, others do not? In the article, coach Molly Watson suggests, and I agree, that it can be a learned skill. Clearly some are more charismatic, more often, than others, but not all the time. In many of Obama’s recent interviews he has not been ‘charismatic’. However, he certainly knows how to turn it on when it matters.
Then he delivers all the characteristics that are, as Molly Watson insists, important: “all the subconscious stuff, like tone of voice, body language, posture and other non-verbal cues”. Filming performances, and playing back with no sound, allows her pupils to face up to their own body language.
Two recent posts here, ‘When body language tells all’ ( June 5), and ‘ The eyes have it’ ( Feb 22), touch on this with the reminder that only nine percent of the impression you make is purely verbal.
Rehearsal will enhance any performance in terms of likeability, energy and confidence. All ingredients of charisma. And whilst you may not be quite like Obama, you can avoid the charisma by-pass!