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Charisma: Do You Have This 'IT' Factor?
Six Traits To Admire And Acquire ...
October 13, 2014

By Paul Strikwerda
Voice Talent & Author

It’s not for sale, and yet it is one of the most sought after things in the world. Movie stars have it. Some captains of industry exude it. Politicians who have lost it, are likely to lose the election.

What am I talking about? Charisma!

Originally, the word charisma meant "grace” or "talent from G-d.” Later on it became the "gift of leadership, power of authority, or charm that can inspire, influence, and motivate others.”

Some believe charisma is elusive and exclusive. Either we’re blessed with it from birth, or we were born to be bland. Others like Olivia Fox Cabane, are convinced it can be taught. Olivia is an executive "charisma coach,” and author of The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism

Cabane thinks charisma is the result of a set of specific behaviors, and not an innate or natural quality. She bases her opinion on behavioral psychology.

No matter where you stand, I think we can all agree that charismatic people have certain things in common that make them attractive to others.

I’ll go one step further and claim that charisma is often an essential ingredient to success.

CHARISMA THE 'IT' FACTOR

In my world - the world of voice acting solopreneurs - charisma is a huge part of what attracts casting directors and other clients to certain talent.

It’s the "IT-factor” that is so hard to define, but that everybody is talking about.

Charisma is like a bright light shining through a crystal. All of a sudden you can see a rainbow of colors, each color being a different attribute.

CHARISMATIC PEOPLE ARE ...

To illustrate what I mean, I have broken charisma down into a number of qualities most inspirational people are known for. These people are:

1. Confident, but not cocky


Charismatic people know their stuff inside out, but they never try to impress. If anything, they want to be impressed.

Some of the most influential, intelligent people I have met, are also the most humble people. They don’t seek approval from others. They’re completely comfortable with who they are.

Charismatic (voice) actors know what they’re doing. You can see it in their posture, and you can hear it in their performance. They’re open to feedback and willing to experiment.

They don’t need outside adulation to feel good about themselves.

2. Focused on others, and not on self


Charismatic people have a gift to make others feel special. When you talk to them, you have their full attention. They are totally present.

One question they often ask is: "If there’s one thing I could do for you, what would it be?”

Charismatic (voice) actors make their clients feel special, and they focus on bringing the script to life. When in session, they are totally in the moment. They’re service-oriented, ready to go the extra mile.

3. Eloquent storytellers


Charismatic people are usually great public speakers, and intriguing to watch. Face, voice, and gestures reveal the same message.

They are enthusiastic, and their energy is contagious instead of draining.

Charismatic (voice) actors are great storytellers. Once they start, you can’t stop listening to them. They are expressive, and they use their voice like a musical instrument. They have the power to move you. When voicing games and cartoons, they’re definitely animated!

4. Interested and interesting


Charismatic people ask the best questions because they’re always open to learning something new. Their ongoing curiosity has made them interesting as well as wise.

Charismatic (voice) actors are active listeners. Their ears are always open, ready to pick up a new accent, and to discover a new character.

Before they hit "record,” they need to know all about the content, the context, the characters and – of course – the client.

5. Authentic and engaging


You can say a lot about charismatic people, but you can’t accuse them of being fake. Self-assured and emotionally intelligent, they despise posturing.

Even though they may be introverted in private, they are outgoing in public. They don’t mind being the center of attention, because it serves a greater purpose. It often comes with the job.

Charismatic (voice) actors are no copycats. They are originals. They may be good at doing certain impressions, but they are hired because of their unique timbre and talent.

They are great networkers, because they’re not afraid to put themselves out there. They know that those who are too shy to ask, will never get what they want.

6. Optimistic and purposeful


Great leaders often embody optimism in testing times. They are persuasive and proactive; they seek solutions and overcome obstacles in unexpected ways.

They smile a lot, and come across as assertive, yet warm.

Without exception, they are driven to do exceptional things. As a solopreneur operating in a saturated, uncertain market, you won’t survive without a positive mindset and a solid plan.

You’re on a mission, and you won’t allow a negative mood to sabotage your success. You come in prepared, and you are confident that you’re exactly where you are meant to be. And when it is time to go, you make sure to leave on a good note because last impressions last.

CAN IT BE LEARNED?

I realize this recipe for charisma has many ingredients.

Remember this. It’s not a technique. It is an attitude.

Just like love, it can’t be forced and it shouldn’t be faked. If anything, charisma is the result of many unconscious processes that were developed over time. I do believe that all of us are capable of these behaviors.

I’m a reluctant extrovert. I really had to force myself to be more outgoing, and show my emotions. You should see me now. I even became a happy hugger!

HOW TO BEGIN ...

If I can do it, you can certainly do it. So, if you feel you’d like to give this charisma-thing a try, don’t attempt to display all these behaviors at once.

Begin by becoming an active listener. Maintain eye contact, and make it about the other person. Don’t interrupt when someone is speaking to you.

To quote Stephen Covey: "Understand before being understood.”

Find out what you can do to make others feel comfortable. Break the ice with a little humor. Discover how compliments give people wings.

Stop complaining, and stop wanting to please everybody. Don’t make excuses, and don’t take yourself too seriously.

Take responsibility for your own life, and please keep your ego in check.

READY FOR CHANGE


Charisma is not reserved to Hollywood royalty, or to tycoons or political power brokers. It can’t be bottled and it can’t be bought. You don’t even need an expensive coach to teach you to become more likable and appreciative.

Deep down I already know you are charismatic. You just need to show it a bit more.

I guarantee you that when you start taking small steps in the right direction, you will notice a distinct difference. A difference in the way you feel about yourself, and in the way people respond to you.

Ask yourself: "What can I do today, to become more charismatic?” and DO IT … gracefully and lovingly.

After all, you are tremendously talented. Use your gifts warmly and wisely, and you will receive much in return! That I can promise you.
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ABOUT PAUL
Paul Strikwerda is a 25-year veteran of the voice over industry whose Nethervoice service features German and Dutch voice overs, translation and evaluation services. Born in Holland, he has worked for Dutch national and international radio, the BBC and American Public Radio. Although 90% of his work is in English, Strikwerda also records in Dutch, German and French. Clients include Novartis, Johnson & Johnson, and the Discovery Channel. And he is author of the new book, Making MONEY In Your PJs: Freelancing for voice-overs and other solopreneurs, and publishes an informative and entertaining blog, Double Dutch.

Web: www.nethervoice.
Double Dutch Blog: www.nethervoice.com/nethervoice

Making MONEY In Your PJs: http://makingmoneyinyourpjs.com

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Comments (3)
Linda Lutz
11/1/2014 at 9:04 PM
I always thought of myself as the opposite of charismatic and never thought it could change because "that's the way I am." Thanks for the encouragement and advice to start changing that!
Paul Strikwerda
10/14/2014 at 4:49 PM
You're very welcome, Suzanne. One of my missions is to increase and improve professionalism in the voice-over industry. With so many newcomers joining the talent pool, I believe many people could benefit from it.
Suzanne Musikantow
10/13/2014 at 9:23 AM
Thanks so much for the terrific article, Paul! Great reminder of not just what charisma is all about, but also what professional behavior is all about.
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