C.O.U.R.A.G.E: The Essential Guide to Building Charisma


Excerpt from Kenny Nguyen’s blog http://kenny-nguyen-mm0e.squarespace.com/blog:

For the last three years, I’ve had many opportunities to speak nationwide about public speaking on behalf of my company Big Fish Presentations. However, while speaking alongside numerous great communicators, I’ve only seen a few that possess that certain “it” factor. That spark, fire, and swagger that makes them easily more likable and trustworthy than any other person in the room.

That “it” factor that I am referring to is charisma.

These charismatic communicators, no matter how adverse their audience may be to their ideals, always find a way to win their audience over. They downright make communication look easy.

I’ve come to find that these individuals exemplify characteristics of an acronym I’ve coined over the years: C.O.U.R.A.G.E. – confidence, optimistic, understanding, respectful, able, genuine, and effective.

Prominent figures in modern history that exude these characteristics include the late CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs; our own American president, Barack Obama; and recent young educational activist, Malala Youafzai. For those unfamiliar with her, check out this incredible interview about her campaign for better education for women in the Middle East.

So what about you?

Do others use these words to describe you?

If your gut feeling sings a resounding “yes,” then great! You’re very lucky to be given a gift that I implore you not to waste. If you feel that these words do not describe you, don’t worry – all is not lost.

You don’t have to be the next Steve Jobs or Martin Luther King to win people over. While some people are born with the natural gift of the gab, others can develop their charisma by being aware, passionate, and willing to practice until perfect communication seems natural.

I’ve included a guide below on my observations of charismatic people over the last couple of years. While I know many would argue that one has to be born with charisma, I’d like to note that before I became a professional public speaker I used to have trouble communicating my ideas. However, after years surrounding myself with the best of the best communicators, I proudly got better – insert shameless YouTube plug: check out a recent presentation I gave here.

So, from my research and experience, here is C.O.U.R.A.G.E explained:

  1. Confidence:  Confidence and charisma go hand-in-hand. Confident individuals have a strong sense of belief in themselves, which, in result, helps others believe in them. These individuals commonly feel great mentally and physically and have the unique talent to make others confident in their own abilities. You can grow your confidence by understanding what you bring to the world, maintaining your physical appearance, and surrounding yourself with a strong support network that believes in you.
  2. Optimistic:  Being optimistic in situations and helping others believe in opportunistic outcomes is an important trait when leading. After all, people want to believe in you if what you bring to the table can also benefit them. It’s important to note that when it comes to setting goals, make sure you’re realistic as to not set yourself up for unrealistic outcomes.
  3. Understanding: Charismatic people listen more than they speak. Having the ability to really understand and listen to others is essential in building charisma, because it’s important not only to be comfortable in your own skin but also helping others feel comfortable. People want to feel like what they have to say is important and appreciated, so speak when you are truly needed and listen when you’re not.
  4. Respectful: When communicating your ideas and convincing others in your beliefs, it’s important not to insult peoples’ ideals. Be knowledgeable of your surroundings and your audience in order to adjust your rhetorical boundaries and actions accordingly. My dad always said, “you’re more likely to catch flies with honey than poison,” which is also a truth when selling yourself.
  5. Able: Developing charisma has a lot of positive side effects that come with a few negative ones. Make sure you truly understand your own capabilities along with those of teams you lead. Being unable to see your own capabilities can result in an unrealistically high sense of approval for the expectation of unrealistic outcomes. Make sure you know what you can deliver, and don’t put yourself in positions that can set you and others for failure.
  6. Genuine: Your energy, open posture, eye contact, smile, and authenticity, can help you come across as sincere and trustworthy. The point is to show good body language that matches your words and it’ll help people believe in you. Make sure your body moves naturally when expressing your points or you’ll risk coming off as scripted.
  7. Effective: Finally, charismatic individuals are effective. People ultimately care about results – so while you may be the greatest in the art of persuasion, if you aren’t able to effectively help yourself and others succeed, you will lose your credibility. Make sure you deliver on what you say and create a reputation. My father’s friend always used to tell me, “it takes one day to make a bad reputation, but a lifetime to make a good one.” Create a reputation where your word is gold and it’ll help with any future you have in convincing audiences.

Confidence. Optimistic. Understanding.Respectful. Able. Genuine. Effective.

Do these words describe you?

Understanding and applying these characteristics are powerful tools in communication. While some may seem natural, it can be developed with practice and awareness. When utilized positively, you can lead people to greatness. When used negatively, you can sway people into a downward spiral – think of dictators and warlords.

Ultimately, it’s your responsibility to use your charisma for good intentions to lead those that believe in you.

Now ask yourself.

Do you have C.O.U.R.A.G.E?

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