Charm, attractiveness, and grace are just the tip of the charisma iceberg. The je ne sais quoi of charisma is how you make those around you feel. An encounter with a charismatic person leaves you thinking you’re both fabulous.
But how does the charismatic person leave this feeling of mutual positivity in their highly likable wake? In acting and in life, presence, enthusiasm, and confidence are the name of the game. Keep reading for tips and tricks on becoming more charismatic.
Charisma is a combination of social and emotional skills that give someone a compelling attractiveness or charm. Emulate these “it” person charismatic traits to build up your own charisma.
You never feel ignored when talking to a charismatic person. They look you in the eyes while you’re speaking, listen carefully, and respond through their body language as much as through their words. A charismatic person makes you feel like the most interesting person in the room simply by being present with you.
A charismatic person pumps you up. Their warmth and passion for life is contagious in a way that makes you feel not only excited but also exciting. Think of Jason Sudeikis’ highly charismatic Ted Lasso and his famous missive: “Be curious, not judgmental.” The charismatic person’s enthusiasm about engaging with and learning from the world around them makes people crave interaction with them.
This element is a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy: The charismatic person appears confident because they know the effect their present, enthusiastic personality has on the world around them. They are confident in their social desirability, know-how, and outward appearance, and this confidence only serves to further attract people to them.
Aubrey Plaza in “Happiest Season” Lacey Terrell/Hulu
What do Aubrey Plaza and Dwayne Johnson have in common? Despite disparities in age, gender, personality, and performances, both actors are highly charismatic.
To develop your own charisma to Plaza-Johnson levels—or at least get halfway there, which is still pretty darn charismatic—lean into your own unique personality and cultivate it using these techniques.
Use body language
Make eye contact—with the person you’re auditioning for, your co-stars, the camera. An appropriate amount of eye contact shows people that you’re listening to them, you’re present, and you have the confidence to look them straight in the face. Don’t be afraid to implement deliberate body mannerisms when your lines call for it. Before your next audition, try practicing this in your daily life: At the next event you attend (or, hey, even the next time you make a fast food run), try to really engage your fellow human through body language. Make eye contact, lean in slightly, and use your body and facial expressions to convey your words. The more you practice this, the more it will come to you naturally on set.
Pay full attention to the scene, whether in real life, in an audition, or on set. Be enthusiastic about engaging with the people and the world around you. Notice a person’s words, body language, and tonal inflections, and incorporate them into your replies. Don’t passively take these traits in—actively use them to drive your own response.
Think of the cheesiest, most poorly acted scene you can. The reason “bad acting” stands out is often the gap between an actor and their character, creating either a wildly over-the-top performance or a stilted one. To develop your authenticity, consider what makes you you. What are your core values, hobbies, forms of identity, and interests? What adjectives would your friends and your nemesis use to describe you? Consider the ways that you represent your authentic self, as well as the ways you might sometimes hide it—and why. Bring that lens of authenticity to any role you take. Interrogate yourself-as-character in the same ways to create an aura of authenticity. It is in this authenticity that confidence blooms.
Can charisma be learned? It is certainly up for debate, however, one of the most bewitching traits of charismatic people is their ability to make whomever they are talking to feel special and important—like they’re the only person that matters—and that can be learned.
Charismatic people pay attention. They aren’t formulating their next sentence; they’re too busy absorbing yours. They make you feel validated and worthy and you want to be around them as much as possible.
Pick a day and commit to listening well and deeply to everyone you come in contact with. Try to keep all of your energy flowing outward to them and your mind clear of any opinions or judgments. Make sure to:
- Listen for the meaning behind someone’s words. Are they just repeating their usual script or really telling the truth?
- Look behind their eyes and see if you can see the real cause of their anger, their fear, and their joy. This is much harder than it seems, as our minds are used to contending with hundreds of thoughts at once, but it can be done if you commit.
- Listen with the pure intention of knowing them in a caring, meaningful way—and then do it again and again.