Fox Cabane describes Steve Jobs as a quintessential example of someone who learned what she calls “visionary charisma” over the course of his career. She has analysed clips of his speeches over the years.
“In his first presentation in 1984, you can see he’s a nerd,” she says. “He’s depending on the product to sell itself. He displays no power nor presence, and certainly no warmth. “But what you see gradually through the early 2000s, is Jobs gaining the elements of charisma. He displays presence first – he looks at his audience and focuses on them rather than the product. He learns power second, gradually taking up more of the stage, and projecting his voice.”
There's another tried and tested way in which well-known figures will ultimately increase their charisma. Research suggests we often romanticise people after their death and perceive them to have been more charismatic. In a study from 2016, participants read a story about the career of an American scientist who created a vaccination for a specific bacterium. When the article emphasised that the scientist had died from a disease originating from the bacterium in question, people rated him as more connected to America, and more charismatic.
The study also looked at newspaper references to heads of state who died in office between 2000 and 2013, and found leaders were more likely to be regarded as charismatic post-mortem.
This last one may be an effective method, but we don’t recommend it.
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