Charisma Work Out #1: Time for a charisma makeover?

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charisma work out 1.1In any expert or leadership role you also need to take care of who you are and how you come across.

We’re talking here about personal impact—the effect you have on others.

Expertise isn’t enough to exercise influence in an organisation.  Similarly, just because you’re a leader, manager or supervisor doesn’t mean you make a memorable personal impact,or be persuasive and influential.

It’s possible to improve your personal impact, or charisma. This is first of a series of Charisma Workouts, from my book Charisma.

First let’s check for any signs your personal impact need polishing.

if you have one or more of the problems listed below, click on that item to see helpful suggestions for taking practical action.

Sign Your Charisma Needs Attentiongns Your Charisma Needs Attention
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Andrew interviewed



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personal impact

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I don’t feel people really listen to me in meetings 

If you’re any kind of expert or leader, this reaction by others is clearly undesirable. However, is it true?

If you feel it is, you will tend to act on that assumption—perhaps trying too hard to get people to listen to you when they are already doing so.

Here’s how to change this situation


Go to your next meeting with a clear purpose—
an end result you’d like to achieve.


step2Find just one thing, one point of view, one fact, or one idea you can believe in and talk about. If necessary do some research and get some supporting information about this matter.[spacer height=”20px”]

Pay close attention to what each person is saying, but this time with a particular aim in mind—you’re searching for an opportunity to speak about your issue or whatever you’ve chosen Be patient and stay alert. .

Step4Once you’ve spotted an angle, a possible connection with your pre-prepared point, wait for a pause in the conversation. Now signal that you’d like to speak—you can do this is many ways, from actually saying: “I’d like to say something about what you said about….”

Or catch the eye of the person who’s running the meeting and signal to them ou’d like to say something. If they do not respond, push ahead anyway and make your presence felt by speaking up.

Deliver your contribution in an unhurried way—try to make eye contact with as many people as possible as you speak. When you have finished, don’t shrink back into your chair, look around the room as if waiting to hear a response.

Virtual meetings

In virtual meetings, such as conference calls, it can be harder to make your presence felt. But this is the same for everyone one else. Just make sure you find ways to signal you have something to say, and don’t wait to be asked if you have anything to say.

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problemsI get offered jobs or projects below my level of ability and training

Maybe this is how you feel. It may not be how your boss, supervisor, or team leader feels about the situation. He or she may consider the work on offer is exactly right for you.

Their reason may be because the organisation needs this work done—not what you feel you could do.

Here’s what you can try:


This may come down to simply acknowledging their limitations in finding the right sort of projects, but that you hope they will look for a new opportunity along the lines you two discussed.

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problemsI hate giving a presentation or a talk

You’re not alone! Many people fear doing this and avoid it if possible. This is a mistake.

Giving a presentation or a talk is a powerful way of establishing your presence in an organisation, even if you’re not fully employed there.

The best way of overcoming your dislike of giving a presentation or a talk is quite simply practice—if necessary with some coaching or professional help. Seeking help is not a failure or a sign of weakness.

Search for a learning experience with a sound track record of helping people with this challenge. Alternatively, find an experienced presentation coach who can work to build your confidence.[spacer height=”20px”]

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I feel uncoproblemsmfortable looking people straight in the eye when I talk to them

Failure to give people eye contact can lead them to see you as shifty, unreliable or uninteresting. Is that your intention? Of course not!

Here’s how to tackle this personal discomfort

Stand in front of a mirror

If none of this works, try attending a learning event geared for rehearsing eye contact, and making a stronger personal impact program.

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 People problemsoften ask me to repeat what I have said

Check out the reality. Ask several colleagues about both these two possibilities.

Hard to follow: Perhaps what you’re saying is hard to understand. Do you have an accent others find hard to follow? Or are you’re being too technical, talking in a complicated way, perhaps using jargon or making references others find hard to grasp.

Hard to hear: Secondly, could you be speaking too quietly and without using sufficient voice projection? It’s perfectly possible that while your voice sounds loud to you, others actually find it too quiet.

You can’t expect to solve this problem without some facts. If necessary attend a learning event focused on improving your speaking impact and get some objective feedback.

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problemsPeople fidget, interrupt or look away when I speak

This may not be your fault entirely. People’s attention spans can be disconcertingly short. Constantly consulting smart phones and laptops can make the situation worse.

Your failure to hold people’s interest should be a matter of concern though and needs to be tackled. You’re entitled to be heard and given a respectful hearing.

One possible remedy is to change how you start speaking:


Gaining attention2

There are plenty of other techniques for ensuring you win the attention you deserve. Consider attending a learning event or having some coaching to try some new ways of doing this.

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I have trouproblemsble getting my ideas accepted at work

This could be because you ‘re not making a sufficient impact with those ideas when you present them. One secret of presenting ideas to people is to show you’re really responsive to their comments, and are not just offering a “take or leave” approach.

Another reason is ideas may need further refining before presenting them. Try them out on a few colleagues before venturing into a formal presentation and even practice how you will explain what you want to achieve..

Finally, a common reason for ideas failing to land is lack of careful discussion with people with a vested interest in supporting or opposing your approach. So before allowing your ideas to surface in a formal setting such as a team meeting or in encounters with senior people at work do some “behind the scenes” explorations to find ot how they might be refined for public consumption.

Developing your personal impact is therefore not just about simple presentation techniques. It’s also using your full personality to get across your ideas, to share your enthusiasm for them and to engage the interest of others.

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In infoproblemsrmal business situations requiring small talk, I feel tongue tied and awkward

You may need some practice in allowing your natural personality to shine through in these situations. Maybe you’re being over concerned with yourself and how you come across. If so, you will not easily show a real interest in the other people and what they’re saying.

In your next business situation, stop trying to come up with small talk, and instead focus on the other person and be curious about them. What are they saying; what are they doing at that moment—eg looking bored, excited, tired, confident; do they smile and if so do you smile back; taking notes; playing with their phone and so on?

There’s no need to become an expert at talking trivia. Small talk is not restricted to that kind of communication. It simply oils the wheels of the conversation and shows you want to be part of the ongoing experience.

Try preparing a few small talk phrases people are used to in these situations and use them sparingly. These include phrases like: “Glad we could get together today”, “Is this your first time visiting our company?”, “How long have you been a {add their job title)?” “Did you watch the match last night?” and so on. Find ones you feel comfortable with and try them out!

A personal impact learning event could help you tackle this issue and gain more confidence in using your natural charisma to communicate more easily.

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Pproblemseople often tell me I have picked the wrong time or place to bring up a certain subject

Tackling this is a lot easier than some of the others on this list!.

Getting the time and place wrong probably means people want to hear what you have to say, but you’re not being focused on their needs. However, they will also often be your best guide as to how and when to raise a particular subject. So ask them!

Make it clear you don’t want to talk about the subject right now. Instead, explain you’re merely seeking their advice on how best to proceed.

Sometimes though, you should press ahead regardless, ignoring people’s resistance to talking about something important. If you detect resistance try saying something like:

“I can see this is not a good time to talk about this, but it’s really important, so can we fix a time for doing this?”

Finally, if this is an issue for you a personal impact learning experience could help to sort out a better approach to bringing up topics, particularly being more sensitive to other’s needs.

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Wheneproblemsver people offer advice or suggestions on my impact, usually I say “yes but…

You can always come up with a reason for ignoring other people’s feedback. Maybe it’s time to start taking what they’re saying more seriously, even if you don’t entirely agree with it.

Still, it can be hard accepting difficult feedback from others, particularly if it’s offered in a threatening or a confronting way.

If you tend to be a “Yes but” person it’s time to get some formal, professional feedback on improving your impact, and on handling resistence, perhaps using techniques like video and other forms of practice.

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I often feeproblemsl on the defensive with people

People with a strong personal impact are less concerned with how they feel and more with how others are feeling. If most of your attention is on your own feelings then you will tend to come across as defence even if you don’t mean to be that way.

Some practical steps to tackling this feeling are:

• Avoid taking it personally when someone says something;
• Accept you’re not perfect; listen more for what they’re feeling, not just what they’re saying;
• Use “I” statement to respond;
• Accept that someone else may see you in a certain way and it’s true for them, while being    false to you, and that’s OK;
• Respond rather than react.

Practicing your impact in a learning environment could help you tackle this negative response to others.

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 I finproblemsd it hard to get others to co-operate with me

It takes two to tango! You need to pay more attention to the needs of others and not just plough ahead pursuing your own goals, important though they may be.

Rather than trying to get them agree to your expectations pay a lot more attention to what others have to say about what you want them to do.

For example try to be curious about their responses to what your want to achieve, what are their main objections, why are they are not interested, what might be getting in the way of their willingness to co-operate.

You need more information if you are to tackle this issue properly—so try to seek this out in a more systematic way. .

Ways to win other’s co-operation include:

• Making sure you talk to them in ways they best understand, using examples they recognise or references they will appreciate
• Seek first to understand what might make them WANT to co-operate with you—what for example might be their reason for doing so?
• Prepare the ground more carefully in readiness to present you request for their co-operation. For example research their possible objections or reasons for resistance.

You could be presenting your aims in ways that are not achieving a sufficient impact. That is, are you failing to maximise your personal charisma? If so it’s time to get some professional help in this area.

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I don’t realproblemsly care about having a high profile, it’s substance that counts

To be a top class tennis player the skill is not enough. You also have to be extremely fit. In business someone can show plenty of substance, for example know their subject well and be an expert yet still fail to make the impact they deserve.

To gain people’s attention you have do more than just master your topic. You also have to be concerned with how you come across as a a human being in a communication setting.

Personality and feelings matter, in gaining and holding attention and in winning influence. If for example you are sure of your topic but antisocial, unfriendly and even rude you’ll have a hard time making the kind of positive impact you require.

Think of yourself as a “brand”. Try exploring these questions:

• “How do I come across to people?—for example am I seen as clever but dull?”
• “What single word would most people use to sum me up?”
• “If someone had to describe my usual impact in a meeting what would they say?”
• “Am I fearful of paying attention to my profile in case it feels uncomfortable?”
• “Am I willing to put some effort into improve my personal impact?”

Be willing to consider some extra help from a professional in both developing your brand or profile and in how you use your subject mastery to win over people.

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I have troubproblemsle remembering people’s names, even when I’ve just been introduced

This is a well researched area where the solutions are well known.

First, you must want to remember someone’s name—really want to do that.

Secondly, remembering seldom occurs without effort. Name recall stems from carefully practicing using someone’s name aloud several times in a conversation, or at worst repeating it a few times in your head and returning to do this again a few minutes later.

Finally, there are various memory tricks to re-enforce someone’s name. One of these is Association in which you link the name in some way with something more memorable. For example “Sarah in Sales” or “Roger the writer”.

Another method is spelling their name out loud, especially if it’s an unusual one. This can be helpful if you have a visual memory, as it creates a mental picture of the person’s name. If they give you a business card glance down at the card and say their name aloud

To get to grips though with the motivational aspect of name recall—that is, why perhaps you unconsciously don’t want to bother to recall names, make some time to work with a professional who works in this area of personal impact.

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I’m not a joiner,problems I’d rather be alone

Swedish film star Greta Garbo was famous for wanting to get away from people and to be alone. This didn’t stop her working successfully in films, and being part of a team putting together an outstanding production and playing her important role.

Just because you prefer your own company doesn’t mean you can’t make a strong personal impact. In fact, your preference may even become a special strength if used well.

However, if you’re using this wish for solitude as a way of avoiding working on your personal impact, this could be preventing you being an effective leader and making a strong impact on others.

Behind this desire to be alone may well be a fear of rejection and handling social situations. Consider spending time with an expert who can help you tackle this aspect of personal impact.

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In meeproblemstings I like to sit where I won’t be much noticed

You can’t expect to make a strong personal impact if you also insist on staying out of the limelight. Often this sort of behaviour stems from a fear of being asked a question or for an opinion and fearing you’ll be made to look foolish.

Keeping a low profile may be sensible sometimes, but not if it undermines your overall impact on people.

It is also important HOW you sit in meetings. If you slump down and avoid eye contact with people then you will be sending a clear signal about you lack of readiness to take part. In essence you broadcast the message “I’d rather not be here right now.”

Consider giving yourself a new challenge of several times sitting in a prominent place where you will be noticed.

In preparation do some homework on the topic likely to be addressed and come prepared with some thoughts about it. Also be sure to sit up straight and look alert.

People with a strong impact can sit quietly in a meeting and still be noticed. They employ a mix of body language, eye contact and other techniques to signal their presence.

To practice the art of sitting silently in a meeting while still building your presence, consider working with a professional concerned with developing the skills of personal impact.

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When Iproblems enter a room I tend to hesitate, walk slowly and keep my head down

Even CEOs sometimes suffer from this and are anxious about the impact they are about to make—even if they don’t show it.

Your personal impact depends not just on what you say, but on how you come across physically, emotionally and even socially.

For example, you don’t need any special powers of charisma to adopt a physically upright stance. This can signal “energy” to other people. Standing tall directly influences our biochemistry. Even adopting a head held high position when you enter a room can affect how you feel and consequently how others feel.

What scientists call mirror neurons show it’s possible to influence other people’s mental state through your own emotional state. This is not magic or even telepathy. It’s based on the fact that others instinctively pick up on your mental state by drawing on all kinds of invisible and subtle clues which you cannot easily control.

Also, here are some techniques worth trying:

• Have a clear sense of purpose for when you enter a room. March across the threshold without giving yourself time to hesitate. not hesitate as you cross the threshold. Entering this will “not only make you seem in the know but will give you a chance to survey he room.

• Before entering an unknown social situation such as a meeting, pause and visualise yourself already seated, with others around you smiling at you and nodding in encouragement. Build a mental picture of a confident person and run this “film”
• through your head several times.

• Before entering a room practice putting your entire body into a power pose—for example raising your arms high and sticking out your chest and so on.

• Arrive really well prepared. Know all the details about the event — start time, exact location, dress code, directions to get there and so on.

• Enter with a smile on your face and look for someone with whom to make immediate eye contact.

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My facproblemsial expressions do not usually match my feelings

For example, you know you’re happy yet your face tells a different story; or you feel determined but your face says something else, or when you have a scowl on your face in fact you’re in a contemplative state.

This problem can be disconcerting. Knowing it’s happening though means you’re half way to solving the problem.

Research into facial expressions initially seemed to show people of all ages and races, from all over the world, manifested emotions the same way. However, this is now being challenged and for example, what one person feels as sadness another might easily be felt as weariness, or frustration in someone else.

The disconnect you may be feeling between your facial expressions and how you feel inside may not matter at all! However, if it worries you, then it may be adversely affecting how you behave with others.

This is where some kind of learning experience in which you practice findings ways to communicate how you are feeling without simply relying on facial expressions.

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I tend to problemsbe late for appointments, I’m not a good time keeper

This is a particularly bad habit of leaders. It sends a negative message about you, damages relationships and reduces the positive impact you make on others.

Consistently arriving late sends a signal to others you don’t regard their time as valuable. Claiming you’re a poor timekeeper is merely a way of avoiding taking responsibility for doing something about this damaging habit.

Ways to tackle this include:

Double it—when planning to attend somewhere literally double the time allowance you initially set for getting there. Even if you arrive annoyingly early this is nearly always better than arriving late and having to apologise for it.

Check the route you’ll be travelling possible problems—for example train cancellations, or other issues such as road works

Go equipped—take a proper map or set of instructions on how to reach your destination that can be used easily—don’t rely on downloading a map along the way or hoping your own smart phone GPS system will show you the way.

Invite help—ask an assistant, friend or partner to help you improve your time keeping record. For example, ask them to remind you to leave enough time to arrive promptly

No excuses—do not give yourself permission to be late by making excuses for it. You may think that it’s just a few minutes, but tardiness is a habit that often gets worse, and minutes will grow.

Avoid over extending—keep your scheduling simple and don’t try to fit in too many appointments around the same time

Refuse invitations you cannot realistically fit into your schedule

Incentivise yourself for arriving early or on time. For example, if you avoid being late all week choose some personal reward for achieving this. Equally pay a financial penalty to a charity each time you are late, increase the payment each time you make it.

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