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Book Summary: Cues – Master the Secret Language of Charismatic Communication

Cues (2022) is about the signals we send unconsciously and how they affect the way others perceive us. The book is geared toward improving your professional life by managing the cues you send and responding appropriately to the ones you receive.

Introduction: Change the trajectory of your career simply by being in tune with charismatic cues.

If you’ve ever struggled to receive recognition at work or meet your goals, you may have a communication problem. And that problem might not necessarily be with what you’re saying, but how you’re saying it. That’s because over half of the communication that occurs in any given interaction is nonverbal. And so sometimes it’s your facial expressions, tone of voice, word choice, visual information, or other types of cues that can make or break your career.

So how do you know what you’re saying when you’re not saying anything?

That’s what we’ll be covering today. In this summary to Cues by Vanessa Van Edwards, we’re going to discuss how to cultivate charisma using several types of cues. In each section, we’ll define the cue category, give an example, and then share how to use the cue yourself and how to respond to it when you see it in others.

Book Summary: Cues - Master the Secret Language of Charismatic Communication


In 2013, Jamie Siminoff went onto the show Shark Tank to see if he could win over investors for his product. His company had, in fact, already done over a million dollars in sales. It was well on its way forward and just needed investment to turn it into a multi-million dollar business. Chances are, you’ve at least heard of his company— Ring, best known for doorbell cameras.

In 2018, Jamie Siminoff sold Ring to Amazon for over $1 billion. But five years earlier, each of the investors on Shark Tank turned him down. While there are many reasons you might get a rejection when you clearly deserve an acceptance, the culprit most likely lies in your unconscious behaviors.

So, let’s break down Jamie’s cues to start. During a demonstration of his product, he knocked on the door and one of the Shark Tank hosts asked who was there. Jamie said his name, but he said it with a rise in voice at the end, making it sound almost like a question. This was a signal of uncertainty and lack of confidence. Furthermore, Jamie failed to recognize and respond to cues given to him by the panel. For example, when he mentioned his million dollars in sales, Marc Cuban’s mouth turned down in an upside-down smile, or mouth shrug. It’s an unconscious signal that the listener either doesn’t connect with what you’re saying, doesn’t care about it, or doesn’t believe it.

Jamie was missing a crucial component for success: charisma.

Charismatic communication comes down to two things: warmth and competence. The most successful people have the right blend of both, which leads them to be likable and respected, the two of which add up to trust. If you find yourself in this position, you’re probably doing well and have a good grasp of how to achieve your goals confidently.

The rest of us fall into one of several categories. We may have warmth and no competence, making us well-liked around the office but meaning we get passed over for promotions or left out of important meetings. We may be all competence and no warmth, resulting in high achievement but few invitations to networking events or social gatherings, possibly to the detriment of our own advancement. Or we may be floundering altogether, lacking in either warmth or competence.

Cues are the physical or verbal signals that tell others whether we can be trusted. Learning cues consists of two parts. The first is being aware of your own cues; the second is being aware of cues from others. This awareness in your professional conversations can help you get more wins whether you’re seeking a promotion, pitching an idea, or just networking.

Body Language

In most interactions, people are looking for some sort of connection. If your boss is giving you a task, they want some sort of acknowledgment that they’ve been heard. If a spouse is telling you about their day, they want to feel understood.

So let’s tie that to a physical action. Think about what you do if you want to see, hear, smell, or touch something more closely. You lean in.

Leaning increases your warmth factor, making you seem more reliable and trustworthy to the person you’re engaging with. It conveys interest and engagement. It builds a sense of closeness and partnership.

So, naturally, the opposite of this gesture is to lean back. Leaning back puts literal distance between you and the person you’re speaking with. It also puts emotional distance there. You can lean back or simply not lean in whenever you disagree with what someone is saying. You may also lean back or stand your ground if you need to maintain boundaries with someone.

If you notice someone you’re speaking to leaning away, try to determine what triggered the lean-back. Did you say something that suddenly had them rethinking their agreement with you? Did you cross a physical boundary? Or did you perhaps forget to pop a breath mint before going into this conversation?

Whatever the reason, respond appropriately either by respecting the boundary they set or circling back to what you think you said and getting their feedback.

Next, let’s get into how body language cues are used to affect how people experience a situation.

No one does details like Disney. If you’ve ever been to a Disney theme park, your memories are likely filled with incredible rides, magical castles, or breakfast with Mickey and Minnie. But there is another reason why your experience there felt so welcoming and wonderful.

Every Disney employee goes through training on how to behave and respond when communicating with customers – everything from what they say to how they say it. Visual cues are used to make people feel at home. So when you get that fond feeling of being welcomed, it’s not an accident. It’s precisely on cue.

Now, let’s talk about the head tilt. This is an example of a cue you can begin using to help increase your warmth factor.

Head tilts show that you’re interested in or curious about what the other person is saying. You can use a head tilt when you want to convey curiosity, sympathy, or interest. This will help the other person feel more comfortable with you.

Don’t use a head tilt, however, if you need to hold on to power in the conversation. When you tilt your head, you’re exposing your vulnerable neck, and this gesture can sometimes be seen as submissive in nature.

If you notice a head tilt in someone else, this is probably good for you, as it means the person is likely interested in what you’re saying. But be careful in your relationship with such people. If they are people pleasers, they may be nice to hang out with, but they won’t likely help you advance toward your goals.

Throwing Up Walls

In section two we talked about the importance of connection. Leaning in increases your warmth factor and helps the person you’re speaking with feel comfortable and heard.

The opposite of leaning in would be leaning away. But there are other cues that also signal disconnection, and these cues can be used to help you identify a person who is perhaps not being truthful with you or may be experiencing anxiety.

So in addition to leaning away, you also want to look out for blocking. This can come in a few different forms, including covering some part of your body, like your mouth or eyes. Fidgeting with your necklace or anything near the notch in your collarbone is also a form of blocking.

You need to be very aware of your unintentional fidgets as they could be signaling fear, anxiety, or a lack of confidence.

People will perform blocking gestures if they’re hiding something, feeling anxious, or perhaps if they’ve received some surprising or overwhelming information. If you see someone exhibit this behavior while you’re speaking, try to find out what triggered it.

It may be that you intended to have an uncomfortable conversation – for instance, in the event of confronting an employee about poor performance. Or it may be that the trigger was unintentional, in which case you can offer solace or space to help smooth things over.

A Powerful Voice

You may be familiar with the reality dating show called Love is Blind. In it, pairs of single people are invited to speak to each other with a wall between them, getting to know and sometimes falling in love with one another without ever seeing each other’s face. In one season, a couple named Lauren and Cameron got engaged after only five days. Two years later, they were still happily married.

The power of your voice makes a big difference to your success. One study found that doctors whose voice quality received low ratings were sued more than those with higher ratings.

There are several important vocal cues to be aware of, including pitch and vocal fry. But the one we’re going to talk about in this section is question tone.

If you remember Ring founder Jamie Siminoff’s story, you’ll know that he started his interview off on the wrong foot by asking his name rather than stating it. If you raise the pitch of your voice at the ends of your statements, you’re signaling lack of confidence. You’re essentially asking your listeners to affirm you and your words.

This is easy enough to change, but it helps if you can hear yourself. If you have any recordings of past presentations, listen to make sure there’s no question tone at the ends of your statements.

If you encounter this in others, it may mean that they are doubtful or lack confidence. You may even want to consider turning them down if they’re making a request or seeking further information.

It’s Never Just Semantics

Word choice matters when communicating in a professional setting. Remember, charisma is the right combination of warmth and competence. This applies to all communication, whether it’s talking with a coworker in the breakroom or sending out a formal email.

Warm language might sound like, “I really loved the company retreat yesterday. It was so great getting to know you.”

Competent language might sound like, “Yesterday we pitched a project to the client. I’m going to brief you on the specifics so we can implement it as quickly as possible.”

Some of it has to do with the content of the conversation, but some of it comes down to word choice. You could easily turn the second example into a warmer example by saying, “The client loved our pitch yesterday. I’m excited to work with you on this project, so let’s get started.”

Words like “loved” and “excited” are warmer and more emotion-based. Words like “brief” and “implement” are a little colder.

But word choice is directly related to intent. So let’s talk about one important pitfall to avoid: being boring.

Boring is the antithesis of charisma. It’s an absence of warmth or personality – and if you come across as boring, no matter how competent you are, you’re likely to remain invisible and unheard. To avoid being boring, put more intention into your communications. Decide what your goal is for the communication and infuse it with the right sort of warmth or competence in language.

Seeing is Believing

Before his career as a comedian, David Nihill was a regular job-hunter like anyone else. On his first day at a new job, he realized he’d shrunk all his shirts in the dryer. He decided to roll with it by rolling up his sleeves so no one would notice how short they were.

This visual cue inadvertently altered his image around the office. The sight of sleeves rolled up puts people in mind of someone getting ready to dig in and get to work. He was viewed as a problem-solver rather than a guy whose shirt sleeves were too short for him.

Nihill had created a brand for himself. Visual cues like this can be used in many places, and are often associated with branding and marketing. You’re essentially branding yourself when you subscribe to a certain look or visual.

When using visuals for yourself, the key is to be authentic and intentional. Make sure the visuals you choose are things you can be consistent with. And remember the warmth and competence factors.

Do you want to increase your warmth factor? Consider playful visuals like pins or new hair accessories. For increasing your competence factor, use a color like blue to convey calmness.

With visual cues, do watch out for unconscious bias. Be aware of your own visual cues and notice whether, by changing them, you’ve experienced any changes in your relationships. Pay attention to your own reactions to other people’s visual cues and question your own bias.

Common biases include the idea that male job applicants are more competent and female applicants are warmer. Studies have been done that show that resumés with “white” names get more calls for interviews than resumés with black names. They also show that how attractive you are affects your salary.

Keep all this in mind as you dress, decorate your desk, choose letterhead, and any other way that you represent yourself visually.


How we hold ourselves, how we speak, what we say, and how we look are all factors in our ability to succeed at work. Charisma is often a deciding factor in whether we get the promotion we want or manage to sway investors. When thinking about charisma, we’re looking at two factors: warmth and competence.

Cues come in many forms, but they’re all directly related to our warmth and competence factors. When you lean in while someone is speaking, you’re performing a warm gesture designed to increase loyalty and trust. When you stand tall and take up space, you’re conveying power and competence.

It’s important to be conscious of cues in all your professional interactions. Controlling your own cues can help you succeed. And recognizing cues in others can help you respond appropriately.

About the author

Vanessa Van Edwards is a speaker, researcher, and nationally bestselling author. More than 36 million people have seen her on YouTube and in her viral TEDxLondon talk. Her behavior research lab, Science of People, has been featured in Fast Company, Inc., USA Today, Entrepreneur magazine, and many more places, including on CNN and CBS. Her book Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People has been translated into more than sixteen languages. For more than a decade, she has been leading corporate trainings and workshops to audiences around the world, including at SXSW and MIT, and at companies including Google, Dove, Microsoft, and Comcast. She lives with her husband and daughter in Austin, Texas.


Psychology, Communication Skills, Career Success, Nonfiction, Self Help, Business, Personal Development, Relationships, Leadership, Science, Counseling, Popular Social Psychology and Interactions, Communication and Social Skills, Personal Finance

Table of Contents

Introduction The Signals That Are Secretly Shaping You 1
Chapter 1 Cue for Charisma 9
Chapter 2 How Cues Work 22
Part 1 Nonverbal Cues
Chapter 3 The Body Language of Leaders 35
Chapter 4 The Wow Factor 73
Chapter 5 How co Look Powerful 97
Chapter 6 How to Spot a Bad Guy … and Not Be One Yourself 131
Part 2 Vocal, Verbal, and Imagery Cues
Vocal Cues
Chapter 7 Sound Powerful 165
Chapter 8 Vocal Likability 184
Verbal Cues
Chapter 9 How to Communicate with Charisma 209
Imagery Cues
Chapter 10 Creating a Powerful Visual Presence 235
Conclusion Cues Best Practices 261
Corporate Workshops 273
Digital Bonuses 275
Acknowledgments 277
Notes 279
Index 299


For anyone who wants to be heard at work, earn that overdue promotion, or win more clients, deals, and projects, the bestselling author of Captivate, Vanessa Van Edwards, shares her advanced guide to improving professional relationships through the power of cues.

What makes someone charismatic? Why do some captivate a room, while others have trouble managing a small meeting? What makes some ideas spread, while other good ones fall by the wayside? If you have ever been interrupted in meetings, overlooked for career opportunities or had your ideas ignored, your cues may be the problem – and the solution.

Cues – the tiny signals we send to others 24/7 through our body language, facial expressions, word choice, and vocal inflection – have a massive impact on how we, and our ideas, come across. Our cues can either enhance our message or undermine it.

In this entertaining and accessible guide to the hidden language of cues, Vanessa Van Edwards teaches you how to convey power, trust, leadership, likeability, and charisma in every interaction. You’ll learn:

  • Which body language cues assert, “I’m a leader, and here’s why you should join me.”
  • Which vocal cues make you sound more confident
  • Which verbal cues to use in your résumé, branding, and emails to increase trust (and generate excitement about interacting with you.)
  • Which visual cues you are sending in your profile pictures, clothing, and professional brand.Whether you’re pitching an investment, negotiating a job offer, or having a tough conversation with a colleague, cues can help you improve your relationships, express empathy, and create meaningful connections with lasting impact. This is an indispensable guide for entrepreneurs, team leaders, young professionals, and anyone who wants to be more influential.


“A must-have guide to becoming an unstoppable force. Packed with tactical, useful information, Van Edwards distills years of research to help you become more confident, influential, and respected. Read this book and learn how to amplify your power while remaining true to yourself.” —Mel Robbins, New York Times bestselling author of The High 5 Habit

“If your goal is to level up your communication and deepen your relationships, Van Edwards is the expert you’ve been looking for.” —Tom Bilyeu, cofounder of Quest Nutrition and the cofounder and host of Impact Theory

“A delightful decoder ring for the subtle social signals you’re missing.” —Olivia Fox Cabane, author of The Charisma Myth

“The success of your idea lies not in the idea itself, but in your ability to brilliantly present it. Read this book and watch your ideas come to life.” —John Jantsch, author of Duct Tape Marketing and The Ultimate Marketing Engine

“Packed with invaluable strategies for maximizing your message, Van Edwards’s energy will inspire you to become the best possible version of yourself.” —Nir Eyal, author of Hooked and Indistractable

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned after countless interviews with entrepreneurs, it’s that YOU have what it takes to achieve all your goals. You just need Van Edwards’s marvelous book to help you along the way.” —John Lee Dumas, host of Entrepreneurs on Fire podcast and author of The Common Path to Uncommon Success

“Van Edwards is a genius when it comes to people. And this book is your guide to being a master communicator.” —Joe Gebbia, philanthropist and cofounder of Airbnb

“Finally, a book that honors the many subtle and important cues we send each other every day. Van Edwards shares a detailed road map for understanding others and leveraging these powerful signals.” —Ximena Vengoechea, author of Listen Like You Mean It

“You need people skills in order to do your best work. Get this wonderfully practical, insightful book, and collaborate ten times more successfully with your team.” —Charlie Gilkey, award-winning author of Start Finishing and Workways (forthcoming)

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Chapter 1

Cue for Charisma

Who is the most charismatic person you know?

This is one of my favorite questions to ask audiences. People immediately shout out their answers. “My dad!” or “My teacher!” or “My best friend!”

The next question is where things get more interesting. I ask, “What makes someone charismatic?”

Typically, I hear crickets. People rack their brains to come up with the answer. They venture, “Well, it’s, you know, that feeling?” Why is it that we struggle to define charisma, even though we immediately recognize it in others?

In a groundbreaking study from Princeton University, researchers found that highly charismatic, likable, compelling people demonstrate a special blend of two specific traits: warmth and competence. It’s a simple equation:

This formula is a powerful blueprint for every interaction. And it can completely change the way you communicate if you know how to use it.

According to the research, warmth and competence cues account for 82 percent of our impressions of others.

First, we quickly assess someone’s warmth, answering the question: Can I trust you?

Then we look for competence, answering the question: Can I rely on you?

And this formula isn’t just at play when making a first impression. Any time people interact with you, they continuously scan for cues to gauge your warmth and competence. And you do the same to others. Whether you are in a business meeting, on a date, with your boss, or with new friends, managing these two traits is essential for your effectiveness.

Highly charismatic people exhibit the perfect blend of warmth and competence. They immediately signal trust and credibility. We see them as friendly and smart, impressive and collaborative. They earn both our respect and admiration.

Here’s the problem: Most of us have an imbalance between these two traits. It’s often the hidden cause of our social difficulties, missed potential, and miscommunications.

We need this balance to succeed. Highly charismatic people use both warmth and competence cues to communicate successfully. We love being around people who make us feel like we are in both safe and capable hands. We like our leaders to be both highly effective and very approachable. We look for partners we can trust with our deepest secrets and call in an emergency. We want to work with people who are both friendly and productive.

We’re always on the lookout for people who hit the sweet spot of both warmth and competence-the quadrant that has the star on the Charisma Scale on the following page. This Charisma Scale helps us map our communication.

Where do you think you fall on the scale? Are you more warm (upper left quadrant) or more competent (lower right quadrant), or do you strike a perfect balance and land in the Charisma Zone? Not sure? You might not show enough cues at all, putting you in the Danger Zone.

Consider where others might place you on the scale. Do a quick test below by choosing which column sounds more like you:

Competent Warm

Impressive Trustworthy

Powerful Collaborative

Smart Kind

Capable Compassionate

An Expert A Team Player

Effective Open

Be sure to take your official Charisma Diagnostic

in your digital bonuses at

Higher in Warmth

If you are highly warm, you have a strong desire to be liked. This can be good-you strive to be friendly and personable-but it can also be challenging. Highly warm folks are often people pleasers and struggle to say no and set boundaries. Your desire to be liked can get in the way of your need to be respected.

You might be seen as:

Trustworthy but not always powerful

Compassionate but not always competent

Friendly but not always impressive

If this is you, you likely have good relationships with your colleagues but you find it hard to pitch yourself or your ideas. You might even get interrupted in meetings or feel underappreciated for all the hard work you do. In social or casual settings, people enjoy talking to you but might not ask for your business card.

You’re likely higher in warmth if people tell you things like:

I always feel so comfortable around you!

You’re such a sweetheart.

I feel like I have known you forever.

You have a trustworthy face.

Steve Wozniak is a good example of a business leader who is known for being jovial and kind but doesn’t get as much credit for his accomplishments as his former partner, Steve Jobs, who was known for high competence.

Higher in Competence

If you are highly competent, you have a strong desire to be seen as capable and impressive. People take you and your ideas seriously, but you might have a harder time building rapport. You could be seen as:

Smart but not always approachable

Dependable but not always collaborative

Important but not always kind

People might even be intimidated by you. They may tell you that you’re hard to talk to or come across as cold. In business settings, this can be a double-edged sword. You’re taken seriously as a leader, but you may have a harder time working with teams.

Clients, customers, or colleagues may find you credible but might not feel comfortable telling you all their needs. Researcher Susan Fiske found that “competence without warmth is likely to leave us feeling suspicious.” In social settings, this means you’re often perceived as important, but it takes you longer to build deeper connections and make friends.

You’re likely higher in competence if people tell you things like:

I never know what you’re thinking.

You can be a little intimidating!

You’re hard to read.

You must be the one in charge here.

Business leaders like Mark Zuckerberg, Anna Wintour, and Elon Musk are examples of people who have had success with high competence but have been criticized for being harsh, hard to read, and unemotional.

You might notice that highly competent people will often partner with highly warm folks to balance them out. Many famous duos include a highly warm character and a highly competent character. This is a good way to think about how these traits play off each other.

Captain Kirk (warm) and Spock (competent)

Warren Buffett (competent) and Charlie Munger (warm)

Ernie (warm) and Bert (competent)

Sherlock Holmes (competent) and Dr. Watson (warm)

Put together, these duos often hit the sweet spot.

The Danger Zone

The last part of the quadrant is the one you need to work hard to avoid: the Danger Zone.

Researchers have found that if you rank low in both warmth and competence, you are more likely to be overlooked, dismissed, pitied, and undervalued.

The Danger Zone is also where I would have placed Jamie Siminoff during his Shark Tank pitch. His idea wasn’t bad, he simply didn’t send enough warmth and competence cues. As a result, the Sharks didn’t believe him.

You can have the best content in the world, but if it’s not shared with the right charisma cues, it doesn’t land.

Siminoff’s low competence and low warmth cues undermined his message. He addressed every single one of the Sharks’ verbal questions with logical answers but missed critical nonverbal feedback cues from the Sharks. He prepared his numbers and created a helpful demo, but his Danger Zone cues sabotaged his credibility every step of the way.

Here’s the key: You might be the most competent, warmest person in the world, but if you don’t show it, people won’t believe you.

The good news is that even if you fall into the Danger Zone, you don’t have to stay there. Siminoff’s idea was so successful that he was invited to come back to Shark Tank five years later as a Shark! When he walked into the tank as an investor, it was like seeing a different person. His cues transformed him. He strode into the room, made broad gestures, smiled, and shook hands with each of the Sharks. He even sounded different.

Sure, Siminoff had one bad pitch, but he bounced back. Everyone can improve their cues.

Why Charisma Matters

Golden Globe-winning actress Goldie Hawn is known for her beauty, her humor, and her talent in front of the camera. But in 2003 she decided to set her sights on a very different goal-creating a mindfulness program in schools. She decided to call the program MindUp and set out to create a mental fitness program for children that could be used in classrooms. But she had a problem. She worried that people wouldn’t take her and the program seriously.

Hawn was keenly aware that she is known for her warmth but not necessarily for her competence. In her own words, “It’s hard enough being me, being Goldie, who has been known for all these decades as being funny and sometimes bubble headed,” said Hawn.

To help give her idea credibility, she brought in neuroscientists and psychologists and launched a massive study to validate the program. Hawn intuitively knew that she had to balance out her warmth with competence to get people to trust and rely on the program. And it worked!

Hawn and her team have grown the program to help over seven million students in fourteen countries and trained over 175,000 teachers. Eighty-six percent of the children who go through the MindUp program report being able to boost their well-being, and 83 percent show improvements in positive social behaviors.

Hawn isn’t the only one embodying the balance of warmth and competence. If you visit the MindUp website, you will see it has a powerful blend of warmth cues-smiling kids, a laughing Goldie, and great stories-

right alongside competence cues like statistics, social proof, and data. Brands, websites, social profiles, and companies also need to hit the sweet spot of warmth and competence.

No matter who you are or what you’ve achieved, balancing warmth and competence is key to your success. A famous study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association looked at how patients rated doctors on their warmth and competence. Researchers wondered, do both of these perceptions really matter? Isn’t competence more important for doctors? Shouldn’t years in school be enough?


The researchers found that doctors who were rated poorly for warmth, rather than for their actual medical mistakes, were more likely to be sued for malpractice. Doctors who don’t use enough warmth cues are unable to get across their competence and are sued more often.

If you can’t showcase your warmth, people won’t believe in your competence.

Too often I see people stuck in one part of the scale. I run into brilliant engineers who focus so much on technical skills that they are disliked and avoided in the office. They can’t get buy-in on their innovative ideas, feel disconnected from the team, and wonder why they’re always doing all the heavy lifting on projects.

Or I meet generous office managers who worry so much about being liked that they can’t speak up in a meeting or get the respect they deserve. They wish for more social assertiveness so they can feel empowered to say no to toxic people and stand up for themselves.

Often it seems the kinder someone is, the less they are appreciated and respected. On the other hand, the more skilled someone is, the more they might struggle with their colleagues and teams.

Whether you’re starting a new project, pitching ideas to a team, or trying to reset your reputation at work, we need both likability and respect. The right charisma cues can help.


Balance warmth and competence cues to be charismatic.

Flavors of Charisma

When I ask audiences to name the most charismatic people they know, two names frequently come up: queen of talk Oprah Winfrey and the former prime minister of the United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher.

Both of these women are considered successful, well respected, and charismatic. Yet their charisma feels completely different. How can this be?

One study examined Winfrey’s and Thatcher’s communication styles and found they use very different cues.

Thatcher was known for her control. She “stood leaning against the parliamentary podium, elbow out as if she owned it. Her head tilted upward. Her voice strong, loud, and with controlled pauses . . . Her body and face still,” explained the researchers.

Winfrey is known for her expressiveness. She “moves with gusto-her arms are long and she gestures broadly. Her facial expressions carry every feeling-she cries, and laughs . . . She sits and stands and moves all around,” explained the researchers.

Winfrey and Thatcher both fall into the Charisma Zone, but they have different leanings. And that’s good! We don’t want everyone to look the same or mimic cues like robots.

Winfrey leans toward warmth but grounds her warmth with enough competence cues to be taken seriously. This is clear in every episode of her show. She cries with people, touches their arms, but also listens intently and asks challenging questions. She laughs freely and pairs heartfelt stories with hard-hitting perspective.

Thatcher leans toward competence but shows enough warmth cues to be seen as trustworthy. In her speeches, Thatcher spoke with clarity and precision, rarely using flowery language, but she imbued her words with passion. She used fewer gestures but would frequently tilt her head toward the sky in a nonverbal gesture of warmth and optimism. Does it surprise you that the “Iron Lady” showed warmth cues? You can demonstrate warmth and still be seen as serious. In fact, you need both elements to communicate effectively.

Yes, there is one formula to charisma-warmth cues plus competence cues. But each of us has our own special balance. As long as you’re in the Charisma Zone, you’re showcasing enough warmth and competence to be perceived as credible and trustworthy.

Compare TV hosts and chefs Jamie Oliver (higher in warmth) with Gordon Ramsay (higher in competence). Both are considered very charismatic but have different flavors.

My goal is to give you the full menu of cues. Then you can choose how much of each ingredient you need to hit your unique charisma sweet spot. This is how we communicate authentically inside the Charisma Zone. You can add cues as you need them.

And the best part? The most charismatic people move flexibly within the Charisma Zone. Need a little more warmth in a situation? Use more warmth cues. Need to inject competence into an interaction? Add competence cues. You can use the Charisma Scale like a dial.

Your Charisma Dial

You are most charismatic when you adjust your warmth and competence based on the situation and person you’re with-while still staying in the Charisma Zone. Take, for example, billionaire founder of Amazon Jeff Bezos. In one early interview with 60 Minutes Australia, Bezos uses warmth cues as he casually takes a reporter around the office-he smiles, laughs, and gestures freely. The reporter even says, “The thing that strikes you first and most profoundly about Jeff Bezos is his laugh.” He was incredibly likable in the interview because he leaned into warmth but still balanced his communication with competence cues-speaking with credibility about his company’s growth, sharing impressive statistics and goals in between laughs.