Are you ready to try the charisma checklist?

charisma leadership Apr 14, 2021
Try the charisma checklist

How’s your charisma? A team of university researchers in Switzerland have come up with what amounts to a checklist for charisma.

They’ve identified 12 elements that could be at play in a charismatic performance. Nine of the qualities were verbal, and three non-verbal.

Speakers applying the nine verbal qualities would be comfortable displaying or using:

  • Metaphors, similes and analogies
  • Stories and anecdotes (as we tell people in our coaching, use stories to make your facts stick in the minds of your audience)
  • Rhetorical questions… posing a thought in the form of a question that’s not meant to elicit an answer
  • The rule of three (ideas and lists expressed in groups of three): “I came, I saw, I conquered”, “Government of the people, by the people, for the people”.
  • Contrasts – placing two ideas in opposition to highlight their difference: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” (Charles Dickens)
  • Moral conviction
  • Inviting the audience to align their moral values with your own
  • High expectations when it comes to setting goals
  • Confidence that difficult tasks can be achieved

The three non-verbal qualities are:

  • Animated voice and delivery – vary the volume, display your emotions, be comfortable pausing to let your words sink in, or for emphasis, or to collect your thoughts.
  • Facial expressions and eye contact – smile, laugh, frown as appropriate, and maintain eye contact with the audience at all times
  • Engaging, purposeful gestures and movement

We often think of good presentation skills as being clear pronunciation, conversational language, a good structure for the speech, good pacing of the delivery (neither ponderous nor rushed), and the appearance that the speaker is comfortable and in charge.

Those are excellent qualities that all presenters should strive for.

But the Swiss research found something that all speakers and leaders should take note of. In test after test, speakers who used some or all of the 12 qualities scored higher in terms of perceived credibility and competence than those who didn’t.

Charisma is as much a legitimate leadership skill as transactional leadership or instrumental leadership. In fact carrot and stick (transactional) or task-based (instrumental) leadership will only get you so far. The most effective leaders are those who use a blend of all three.

So charisma is an essential tool for any persuader and leader. No wonder the Greeks came up with the word, when they were looking to describe a special gift.