He spoke with such enthusiasm and conviction. In fact, he was able within the first twenty seconds of his conversation to ensure that everyone in the room was listening to him, I remember exactly how we were all hanging on every word he said only to wait impatiently to hear what more he had to say. He owned the crowd, he owned the room, and for the forty five minutes he spoke he owned the world. He wasn’t saying anything you couldn’t find in book but he had that secret ingredient that enables you to feel, hear, and see inside his experiences.
I am talking about my university professor who grabbed my attention at a time when I didn’t even think that speaking was important to life. Being an introvert at heart who can pull off being an extravert when needed, I honestly believed back then that speaking was a waste of time. However, after listening to his lectures a few times, I realized that he inspired me. I knew then and there that I wanted to be able to grab an audience when I speak. I liked the power and command that such ability came with and I was even jealous, because he did what I could not do at the time. He was simply able to charm an audience, and let’s be honest charm, is that one ingredient you need to make your communication effective.
Although he taught us 18th century literature, a tedious 8:30 am class loaded with facts that I do not remember today, I remember the personal stories that the professor added to his lecture. However, my interest in speaking temporarily died behind books, homework, and a series of desk jobs I took after graduation. So, even when I did join toastmasters I did it to at first to socialize and speaking was not even a deciding factor. My interest public speaking was only re-kindled years later when I listened to many more charming speakers.
However, this is not going to be a post in which I tell you how charming I am today, because charm is relative. To some I may be charming and to others I may be dull. This is a post about charm. The question is, how can we define charm? In my attempt to put this broad concept into words, I would say that charm is the ability to be someone worth listening to and remembering in a positive way.
If we were to remember the people in our lives that we found charming, we would most probably say that they are those who tell us their personal stories. I say this because I believe that stories are powerful. They instantly make the person telling them more relatable. They can even be seen as a speaker’s commitment to share part of him or herself with others while living in a world that is judgmental. They are a speaker’s way of showing that he or she is a normal person who can mess up, cry, laugh, love and even have a heart broken at times, and such ability commands bravery, authenticity, and honesty.
Charming people are those who are able to laugh at their experiences, cry at their sorrows, and are honest in their world. They bond with their listeners by showing that they are one and the same. This is why the speakers who stick to facts, figures, and technical presentations remain at a lost cause. They are not relatable. They are only knowledgeable. But then again, isn’t knowledge available in books and on the internet?
In reality, we do not remember most of the things people say but we do remember every little detail related to how they made us feel. So in a nutshell we are charmed by those people who are honest enough about life. We are charmed by those people who leave in us a positive feeling because they are worth remembering.
This is my understanding of charm.