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Building Charisma: 10 Tips To Move Like A Leader

| November 18, 2013 | 3 Comments

 Charismatic Leader

If you ACT confident, then you will FEEL confident, which means you ARE confident!

Charisma is such a mysterious concept to most. It’s one of those words attributed to the types of people who can just walk into a room and own it. These are often also labelled as ‘leaders’, ‘entrepreneur’s and ‘risk takers’ – at least, that is how they are perceived.

Being an entrepreneur in a public field of work, where your identity is a selling point for your product or service, requires you to develop yourself as a charismatic personality. People should instantly recognize you as a leader in your field whenever they see you in person or in your videos.

I believe strongly that most of what we communicate to others about our levels of self-confidence is through our displays of posture and body language. So in this very straight-forward article, I’ve provided the top tips I’ve learned from senior managers, personal trainers, dating coaches, dance instructors and athletes about body language. Combine these factors with achieving goals, leadership management techniques and strong public speaking, and people will start describing you as ‘charismatic’ too!

Here are some tips on how to control your movements better:

1. In your mind, move like a predator

Think of how a tiger or lion moves when they’re not hunting. Slow, sleek and purposeful. These are the movements of an animal unhurried because they fear nothing. Ask yourself “How would I move if I didn’t have a care in the world and nothing scared me?” Slow down, move as if you are a spectacular vision of perfect human awesomeness.

Some people mistakenly perceive rushing around in an assertive way as demonstrating confidence. A few very confident people do actually move like this. But those at the very top of their field, who recognise no competition, feel like the best so move without haste. Think of the top actors, CEOs, billionaires etc. How do they move?

2. Move like you’re in semi-slow motion

The key points are to move slowly and purposefully. Avoid quick, jolty movements that give the impression of anxiety. Walk and move your arms as if you are walking underwater in a pool. Take a week to consciously check out your nervous habits, like twitching, fiddling with your hands, and jerky movements. If you can, try filming yourself giving a presentation and look for anything that stands out as lacking confidence. Aim to correct these bad habits consciously – it will take a while to master them all (I’m still working a couple myself).

3. Maintain eye contact

Here’s a great exercise to build on this challenging skill: for a whole week, write down the eye colour of every single person you speak to e.g. “tall man, sales clerk, hazel and slightly bloodshot”. This will get you into the habit of at least making initial eye contact during interactions. Eye contact is challenging for many, particularly men, as it can feel confrontational. Push yourself to be able to maintain eye contact for 100% of an interaction.

Over time you can whittle this down to a more appropriate amount, which I would recommend for one-to-one interactions is 90-100% while they are talking, and about 50% while you are talking. When talking to groups, always be in eye-contact with someone (a vital skill for public speaking) but share it around a few seconds at a time to keep people engaged, kind of like spinning plates.

4. Smile

Confident people don’t look serious all the time, they smile because they are happy and unafraid to show it. Some people really struggle to smile and not doing so makes them look tense and stressed out. Practice smiling in the mirror if you have to. Some people tell me they are uncomfortable ‘faking’ a smile. I agree you should not fake anything. But think of smiling as MORE than just expressing happiness. Chimpanzees smile at each other when they are play-fighting to assure each other that it’s just a game.

So smile to show that you are relaxed and in charge, rather than just happy, and it won’t feel as fake. It’s just the same as shaking someone’s hand really; shaking their hand isn’t how you feel but you do it because it’s a body-movement designed to convey an idea (‘nice to meet you’). Smiling conveys ‘I am confident’. Done right, it also conveys ‘I am the most secure person in the room’.

Smiling is so important for demonstrating confidence. The two main occasions you should always smile is when meeting someone for the first time, and when entering a room full of people. Try this for a while (combined with the solid eye-contact) and see how people respond to you.

5. Talk with your hands

Again, the movements need to be slow and restrained, but using your hands to emphasise your points while you talk is a common habit the most successful speakers employ. Watch videos of top CEOs, TED talk guests, rock stars etc and watch them use their bodies to add flair and passion to what they are saying.

6. Touch people…often

No, I’m not kidding. Dominant confident people make physical contact with others, often. It takes a lot of practice to get used to doing this if you are not comfortable with it. Start with social, comfortable events (like when you are at a bar with your friends). Just start patting people on the arm, shoulder or even knee when making a point, or putting your hand on their back to guide them somewhere.

Get used to doing this until it becomes a natural thing to do. Then you can escalate to doing this in professional settings once you get a good understanding of boundaries and appropriateness. Psychologically, touching builds relationships quicker than talking; this is why people can fall in love after sex!

7. Spread out

Specific to sitting down, always aim to take up as much space as possible. This one is more for the guys – I don’t recommend you girls spread yourselves out like a guy can! However, the gender-universal body language of confidence for sitting includes draping your arms over the back of the chair, crossing your legs at the knees, and leaning back. Sit in the chair like you would if you owned the venue.

In fact, just do anything like you own everything.

8. Consciously relax

Most people betray lack of self-confidence through being either tense (particularly in the shoulders) or twitchy. For a couple of weeks focus on reminding yourself to relax your body. It’s about a combination of dominant posture and relaxed movement. It takes a while to master this blend, so just keep practising. You’ll know you’re doing it right when you are moving like the most confident actors in movies do. Watch ‘Vince’ in the TV series Entourage and you’ll get what I mean.

9. Keep your head straight

Don’t tilt your head sideways like a curious dog. I do this all the time, it’s one of my most annoying habits that I struggle to correct (you can see me constantly correcting it in my videos if you watch closely). The posture rules apply here – imagine the crown of your head has a string attached to the ceiling pulling your head up and straight.

10. Consider a dancing class or martial arts

Most of my body language skills can be attributed to a number of factors: regular muscle work-outs (particularly back to strengthen posture); Wing Chun kung fu; and salsa dancing. Find an activity that entirely focuses on gaining control of your body, like dancing. Dancing is good because it usually focuses on masculine body language for men and feminine for women. Like it or not, aligning your gender with body language known for it will appear as confident to others.

Have a great week!

Dan is a lifestyle and career coach, with his own company The Inspirational Lifestyle Ltd. He lives in Auckland, New Zealand, and loves to share his advice and opinions on how to attain success. Make sure you checkout more of Dan’s advice at: TheInspirationalLifestyle.com

Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

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Category: Career Advice, Entrepreneurship

  • Anup

    Great points Dan.I like the excercise you proposed to make eye contacts
    “tall man, sales clerk, hazel and slightly bloodshot”. I am going to try this.
    And entourage,for sure the best lifestyle pickup series.
    Thanks !

  • Quin

    Great article!

  • Mat

    #11. Proofread your documents. (You have two 2′s)

    Great advice though, thanks!