Your Route to the top: Charm your way up

Inspire people. Think Martin Luther King. Appeal to people's emotions by showing them how it could be if only they dared to dream. Your optimism will pull people in.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Share your passion. If you can't find enthusiasm, find an angle. Link the new performance-management system into how you helped your son transform his grades, or how your football team shot up the league. Showing you care brings a topic to life.

Surprise 'em. Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev banged his shoe on the table in response to a speech criticising the Soviet Union's role in eastern Europe. Unconventional responses to familiar situations get our attention.

Create empathy. Give natural synergy a nudge by consciously matching others. Try speaking at the same volume or pace, and reflect movement. Be subtle though. You'll know it's working when you laugh and they laugh too.

Add some sparkle. Use words that express emotion (excited, nervous, thrilled), evoke sounds (crash, whoop, boom) and are descriptive (immense, shimmering, fierce). Be a wordsmith: use language to change how people feel, not just what they think.

Captivate your audience. Draw people in with positive comparisons: 'Just like you, Ben's always coming up with solutions.' A little flattery goes a long way.

Be generous. Give answers that go beyond what's needed: 'An excellent book - practical as well as an easy read', rather than 'It was fine'. Interesting people share colours and flavours.

Tell stories. In his victory speech, president-elect Barack Obama told how 'change has come to America' through the eyes of 106-year-old Ann Nixon Cooper. He took the audience on her journey. We felt the 'heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress' that she did. Next time you hear a good story, note it down. It could come in useful.

The Mind Gym: Give me time is published by Time Warner Books (£12.99). Contact the firm at

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