I had a big bump moment with charisma last week that I want to share with you. I have always been a HUGE fan of Brené Brown, ever since I saw her TED talk in 2010, the very talk that went viral and made her an overnight sensation.
So it was very exciting to get the opportunity to see her live in Melbourne last Friday. It was exciting but I was also a tad nervous, what if she didn’t live up to my expectation. I need not have spent a nanosecond worrying about that. Brené was a warm, empathic and funny and had the audience eating out of the palm of her hand from the word go. But what surprised me was how charismatic she was. I was reminded of a quote by Rose Herceg ‘Charisma is like pornography, you can’t define it, but you know it when you see it’!
We are all brought up to believe charisma, you have got it or you don’t, but having the privilege of watching Brené in action, here are some things that stood out.
Charisma is being comfortable with who you are. Every charismatic person owns who they are, warts and all and are completely comfortable in their skin. They are not mimicking someone else or trying to be something they are not.
Authenticity. What struck me with Brené Brown’s talk was how genuine she was, it does help that she researches authenticity, but it is very powerful to see a speaker modeling their message. In a world where so much seems manufactured, spun, sanitized, authenticity is immediately charismatic.
Elevate others. Quite often people who think they are charismatic, or are determined to be charismatic can make it all about themselves. It is all about their ego, always speaking the most, and not giving other people an opportunity. Seeing charisma in action is the exact opposite of that. A charismatic presenter or leader elevates the people around them, through their connection, and warmth. All of us felt shiny and new and loved ( I know!) after we heard Brené.
Humour and humility. Share stories, every charismatic person is a great storyteller, but their stories are not the ‘how great I am’ stories but story that show them in their human frailty and use humour and humility.
Charm not smarm. Charisma and charm are like basil and tomatoes. But the key is the charm has to be genuine, a genuine smile, spotting the positive thing to say and a warm handshake.
Off Stage. Charisma is not something you turn off and on. We were in a crowd of people trying to speak with Brené after she stepped off stage and she was being moved along by her conference organisers. Yet I noticed she made time to shake every hand that was proffered, hugged people and stopped to chat even if it was just for a couple of seconds. Her off stage and on stage persona were completely congruent.
I know all of us do and are some of these things some of the time. Our challenge is to ‘Bend it like Brené’, and make it part of who we are. So the next time you have an opportunity to go in ego and guns blazing or elevate someone else chose the latter and watch your charisma grow.
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