How to Speak with Authentic Charisma.​

danny riley public speaking coach

Danny Riley
9 min read

What you’ll learn:

  • What it means to speak with charisma.
  • Authenticity, warmth and the charisma recipe.
  • The dark art of the charisma cloak.
charismatic man in suit

Speaking with Charisma.

Charisma is an abstract term; no single definition exists. Like beauty, it is in the eye of the beholder.

Sure, charismatic people have certain traits; self-confidence, optimism, a twinkle in their eye, and sizzle in their soul that resonates outwards.

But charisma is a two-sided coin. You don’t have to be full of boundless energy like Richard Branson, creating multiple companies across countless industries to be considered charismatic.

Gandhi, too, had charisma: a peaceful presence that won over the crowds through gentle persuasion and persistence.

But can charisma be learned?

Many people believe charisma is a rare and innate quality that some people are born with. Even the original Greek word alludes to this, meaning:

“A gift from the gods”.

But rather than a divine gift, I believe charisma is something we can all tap into. But how? Can you simply act with charisma and be thought of as charismatic?

Let’s explore some key ingredients in the charisma-recipe, and get you speaking with more power and persuasion.

First up, authenticity.

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Speak with authenticity.

Authenticity requires deep self-reflection into who you are and what you stand for.

Because the only way to persuade others to your way of thinking, is to first know exactly what you think and feel about your given subject.

If you want to talk about positivity, for instance, you must first be unwavering in your outwards positivity towards life. I have coached clients who want to speak about confidence, but they stand on stage “shaking like a field of beaten corn”, to quote Shakespeare.

I’ve also coached clients who want to talk about resilience, but they seemingly break-down when their deadline approaches and can’t handle the pressure.

It’s fine to lack confidence, or feel stressed, but until you are living the life you talk about you will never radiate the outward confidence and inner resolve required to persuade your listeners to take action.

I know what some of you are thinking:

“Can’t I just fake it till I make it?”

The Dark Art of the Charisma Cloak.

Well, I have some seriously important news for you. Faking charisma is one of the most dangerous choices you can make in life.

The ‘cloak of charisma’ is one of the most powerful dark arts that we possess as humans. The ability to convince others that we are positive, confident, passionate, in love, or healthy through our smile, gestures and a warm glow is a recipe for disaster.

This is why it’s so important to develop authenticity and strength beneath your outward appearance.

Charisma is not an elixir to be taken before a speech or a mask to wear to the ball. It is a deep curation of skills and resources that allow you to be who you truly are, and radiate an outward energy force that pulls your audience in.

Once authenticity is in the mix, you’re ready for the next ingredient.

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Speak with warmth.

Warmth puts people at ease, and makes them more receptive to your message.

If you’ve ever struck up a conversation with a stranger and immediately felt comfortable in their company, you’ll understand how a person’s warmth can come across.

Derren Brown is a great example of someone who embodies the quality of warmth when speaking in public. In his live shows, he opens in a friendly and conversational tone, right out of the gate.

There’s no need for a lengthy introduction or warming up. Instead, everyone immediately feels a sense of connection and intimacy. The whole audience feels they’re being spoken to directly, by a close friend.

How do you convey warmth when speaking?

To begin, try to use a soft smile, natural gestures and open body language. Then, while speaking, have a more conversational tone by slowing your delivery and being more expressive.

You can also show warmth in specific ways:

  • Greeting someone with a big smile and a welcoming handshake.
  • Opening with a sincere and thoughtful compliment.
  • Playing the host in order to make everyone feel welcome.

But practicals aside, warmth isn’t something you can just perform for the crowd. It has to come from an inner feeling of kindness, trust and generosity. In order to feel genuine warmth for your fellow human beings, try the following:

  • Practices such as meditation, or gratitude journaling.
  • Viewing others in a spiritual way, as brothers and sisters.
  • Becoming more empathetic by paying attention to people.

When you speak with warmth, people feel you understand their needs, concerns, and aspirations. In turn, they’ll be more likely to listen to your ideas.

Warmth is particularly powerful when dealing with difficult or unreceptive audiences. By communicating with a genuine openness and welcoming front, you can often disarm even the toughest crowds.

In short, warmth will make people naturally warm to you!

But in order to speak with authentic charisma, you’ll need to combine this with the next quality: conviction.

Speak with conviction.

No speaker exudes charisma while sitting on the fence.

Once you’ve added warmth to the mix, you must temper it with the next ingredient: conviction.

To speak with charisma, you must first believe in yourself and your ideas. When you are convinced of your message, your audience will be more likely to connect with you.

However, if you’re not convinced, then neither will your audience be. Instead, they’ll pick up on your lack of conviction, and feel a subtle mismatch between what you say, and how they feel.

As Deborah Meaden put’s it,

“Find the thing that you are passionate about, automatically you’ll deliver it with conviction. You believe, they’ll believe it”.

Charismatic speakers must have the courage to stand for something. You can’t be afraid to speak up for what you believe in, even if it means going against the status quo and taking a risk.

There is perhaps no better example of this than Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. His words, not only imbued with authenticity and warmth – but with tremendous conviction too:

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a
nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by
the content of their character. I have a dream today.”

To have conviction means to speak from the heart, be true to yourself and have the utmost integrity around your values and beliefs.

But to complete our charisma recipe, we’ve got one final ingredient for the mix.

Speak with vulnerability.

Vulnerability is the final ingredient, and perhaps the most challenging quality to master.

It requires you to let go of your pretenses and be your true self, without any airs or graces. Which in a world of showreel highlights and photo-shopped stories, can be a challenging feat.

How many times have you seen a celebrity or even a friend die from suicide or have a mental breakdown, who seemed perfectly fine and even appeared to be enjoying life immensely?

Robin Williams, Marilyn Monroe, and Heath Ledger come to mind; and these are only the most high profile figures.

There are millions out there today who pretend to be living lives of wealth, health, and happiness behind their Instagram filters. And we will never know if they need our help because they are good at masking the truth.

The ability to tell people about your struggle is another part of the charisma puzzle that will draw audiences to you.

Speaking with vulnerability.

I recently connected with TEDx Speaker Jo Corbishley, who delivered a speech which demonstrated the power of vulnerability brilliantly.

In the talk, Jo opens up about her struggle with infertility. By sharing this painful experience openly, she allows the audience to connect with her story, feel the emotion, and understand the lessons it taught her.

You can view Jo’s TEDx Talk here.

When you’re vulnerable, you become relatable, and your audience feels like they know you.

Many speakers approach the stage trying to shield themselves with authority, research, a fake smile, or a corporate speaking-style. But too much of this will only create a barrier between you and your audience.

By being vulnerable and authentic, you can break down that barrier and create a deeper connection with your audience.

The Charisma Recipe.

Charisma might be elusive, but it’s something we each have access to.

Through being authentic, practising warmth, finding your conviction, and leaning into your vulnerability, you can begin speaking with your own — authentic — style of charisma.

When you reach this moment, you won’t be able to contain your excitement, your vision, or your ideas — and your audience will arrive.

Remember though, there’s no charisma without authenticity. Be yourself, and your audience will be charmed by the real you.

If you want to learn more about learning to speak with authentic charisma, read about our public speaking training options here.