How Charisma Works

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, the art and science of charisma. Or, even the anatomy perhaps:

Charisma, though, has two halves. It’s a relationship between the person who possesses it and the people who respond to it. It’s only when the spark meets the kindling that a flame can ignite. A charismatic speaking to a mirror is not particularly exciting. Put one in front of a crowd, however, and you’re in for a show.


There are folks that I have encountered in my life who have this magnetic presence. The metaphor of a magnet is a perfectly superb one, by the way as I have felt literally drawn to them.

This can work in a number of different ways and for a number of different purposes, perhaps best expressed via Bart Campolo, now ex-pastor and religious communicator:

You can use it to get women in bed, you can use it to win people down the aisle for Jesus, or you can use it to sell insurance.


I think one of the more fascinating ideas and concepts is this: If charisma is more scientific than divine (i.e. divinely given) then it can, by default, be studied and learned. If it can be learned it can be taught. If it can be taught it can be refined and eventually mastered.

But, to what end? But, to what end.

A fire can provide warmth. It can save lives. It can also do the exact opposite.