While many conservatives and Republicans around the country have been impressed with Gov Scott Walker’s (no relation to me that I know of, though I do have relatives from Wisconsin) record in Wisconsin, the rap on him as a presidential candidate is that he has no “charisma.”
This, of course, begs the question, what is “charisma?” Reagan is said to have had it. Clinton is said to have it. What is “it?”
I have a contrarian view on the subject. I believe there is no such thing as “charisma.” I believe that charisma is simply a shortcut for describing someone’s public speaking and media training skills.
Case in point: Earlier this week, Walker gave a speech to a conservative audience in the Midwest. Unlike previous Walker speeches, which are usually as dry as a CFO’s quarterly earnings statement, Walker spoke with passion and delivered lots of red meat on conservative hot button issues. Now, many commentators are lauding Walker’s speech as passionate and powerful, and, for the first time, Walker is being described as “Charismatic.”
If you doubt my theory, try to make someone in politics whom you think of as wildly charismatic, but is a poor public speaker? I’m willing to be you can’t do it, can you?
Think of all recent President’s who failed in their attempts to win re-election: Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush. What did they all have in common? They were poor public speakers AND all were perceived as non-charismatic.
Here is why this issue is significant. Charisma is seemingly something you are either born with or you aren’t. Public speaking skills are just that, skills that can be learned, like riding a bike or typing an email. The more people learn that charisma is actually a learnable skill, the sooner we open up our democracy to a much larger pool of candidates.
If you’d like to learn how to have charisma, i.e., learn how to be a better public speaker, please call Media Training Worldwide at 212.764.4955