How to be authentic when you speak in public

Person wearing a mask - how to be authentic

Why being more authentic leads to speaking success

Every time I run a presentation skills workshop I get asked questions like;

  • What is the “right” way to present?
  • Should I use humour?
  • Should I move or stand still?

My answer is always the same. “You have to learn how to be authentic.”

You see I believe that there is no one right style.  What is much more important is that the presenter comes across being themselves.

Think about this for a moment. Who are your favourite speakers?  Don’t you feel that they are authentic?

Many novice speakers, try to copy people with styles way different to their own and the result is usually disaster.  Trying  to be something or someone who you are not, it rarely works.

“Be the best version of yourself you can be”

Nervousness is not your authentic self

Despite what you may initially think, you were not born nervous.  When you were a baby you weren’t afraid to scream or laugh or cry.  You didn’t worry about making a fool of yourself in front of others.  Anxiety related to expressing yourself in front of other people is a learned response.  We learn to build barriers between who we really are and the outside world and in doing so we forget how to be authentic.  This practice is natural, but it can end up holding us back.  Thankfully such self-limiting behaviour can be usually be unlearned.

Learning how to authentic means opening up to your audience and revealing some of the facets of your personality that you may have previously learned to keep hidden.   Your emotions, your passions, your sense of humour, even your vulnerability.

The bad news is that you have to be ready to take a (small) risk.

The good news is that when you learn how to be authentic, the rewards are massive!

In my experience, being yourself brings  huge payoffs in terms of your ability to inspire and influence others. Even more importantly, knowing how to be authentic helps dissolve much of the internal tension and stress that we create when we try to be someone or something we are not.

Do yourself and your audiences a big favour – bring more of your true, authentic self to everything that you do.  Remember, life is not a rehearsal!

2 Comments

  1. Craig on 19/02/2008 at 20:10

    Your post reminds me of the Toastmasters contests, whereby you can see contestents copying the style of previous speakers. Eg: That guy is going a Darren le Croix, or he is doing a David Brooks etc.

    Be authentic to yourself, and remember to find your own voice!

    Craig

  2. Lisa Braithwaite on 02/02/2008 at 05:40

    Ugh. The things people think they’re “supposed” to do as presenters just end up turning them into robots. The fewer affected mannerisms and the more emotional connection with the audience, the better!

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