Ryan Millar charisma photo seth carnhill

I must confess: I wasn’t comfortable with the title of my latest Guardian Masterclass: Boost your authenticity and charisma: a masterclass in personal magnetism.

As confident and proud as I am, the Canadian in me found it a bit uppity. Nonetheless, charisma is something I’ve been studying for a long time, and I was restless with my public speaking masterclass. It’s quality content, participants appreciate it and it sells out all the time. But I wanted to challenge myself to something new.

And charisma was the logical next step: the class was essentially about helping participants increase their positive impact on the world. And the foundation of that is getting to know and appreciate yourself; showing yourself authentic kindness that you can then radiate out into the world.

The course went really well. We had a great day, a lot of fun, a lot of laughs and I received a lot of positive impact. It’s likely I’ll run it again. But I ran out of time, even after throwing out two whole sections of the workshop I had planned and prepared. So rather than doing it on the day, I had to include my ’25 charisma hacks’ in the follow-up notes I sent the following week.

I thought I’d share a few of those. So here are a couple of things that should help boost your charisma.


  1. Be where you’re at – This related to mindfulness and meditation, as well as the practice of ‘situational awareness’. Put down your phone, stop your mind from wandering and just be present where you’re at. Whether at the supermarket, a bus stop or a networking event.
  2. Stand up straight – One way we minimize our impact on the world is by literally minimizing the space we take up. Hunched shoulders, hands in pockets, downcast eyes, all of these signals cut us off from unleashing our charisma. Turn this on its head by going big. Straight back, open body language. Power is attractive in a way that shrinking and hiding is not
  3. Smile – Jeez, is this one ever easy. It’s practically a gimme. And yet we easily forget the deceptively simple power of a smile. Slapping one on your face can greatly influence, in a positive way, people’s assessment of your attractiveness and confidence. As a bonus, it also makes you feel instantly better, as your brain thinks you must be smiling for a reason, so it supports your transition towards a better mood.
  4. Use other people’s names – People love it when other people use their name. Instead of saying, “what do you think?” you can say “what do you think, Paul?” (do it with a smile on your face and watch Paul light up. This charisma hack only requires you to memorize one thing. 
  5. Ask follow-up questions – When someone tells you something, a fact, an opinion, an anecdote… anything, asking some follow-up questions. This will help you understand better, it demonstrates care, and it really makes people feel heard.
  6. Be courteous and thoughtful – “Please” and “thank you” are free, as are offering to help someone, giving up your seat on the tube for an elder or pregnant person, holding the elevator door for someone who’s rushing… these are small acts, but taken all together add up to a fine pillar of charisma. You don’t have to do it all the time, but endeavoring to do a tiny kindness or show some gratitude or care really put positivity in the world.
  7. Cut yourself some slack – Sometimes you’re going to be too tired to offer your seat on the tube, or you’ll try to impress someone and flop, or whatever. It’s. No. Big. Deal. Devote less time to negative thoughts and negative self-talk and just shrug it off. This is all part of the process of increasing your charisma. There’s no hurry, it’s not a race. It’s just part of the learning process.