Authenticity has long been one of the most respected and sought after qualities in leadership, presenting and public speaking.
We live in highly competitive world.
For many, our very self-esteem rests squarely on being liked, impressing people and an insatiable desire to look good.
That’s why it’s so refreshing to hear someone speak who is completely genuine.
Authenticity is key
Today’s audiences are very discerning and easily disengage when they sense they aren’t quite getting the ‘real deal’.
The most common piece of advice you will hear from a public speaking coach is to ‘just be yourself’.
On the surface that seems to be good counsel, although at Mindful Presenter we have a slightly different perspective.
What does that mean anyway?
It seems to me that life experience and conditioning dictates that we inevitably end up with many ‘selves’.
The list is infinite but to give you an example of just a few, we have our:
And of course on the less endearing side we have our:
So when it comes to authenticity in public speaking, which self should we be?
Our Mindful Self
What exactly does that look like?
That’s the ultimate challenge for all speakers and presenters.
If we have the time and attention of an audience, we owe it to them to call upon our:
Emotionally intelligent self
Sarah Palin’s speech endorsing Donald Trump’s Presidency campaign
This contained a great deal of what sounded authentic in terms of:
These are all highly respected and sought after qualities in a speaker.
That said, in the absence of one vital ingredient they are still not enough.
She certainly sounds authentic, but authentic about what?
When we have the attention of an audience our authenticity must be encased in substance.
In other words, it’s not just about delivery; content is vitally important too.
Here is what I believe we can learn from Sarah Palin’s recent speech to aid our development in authentic public speaking:
Make it about your audience rather than yourself
You will have your own view when you watch the video of course but it seemed to me that this particular address was designed for the camera and the media.
It’s hard to find anything of value that would make a difference to the audience.
Have a structure that your audience can easily follow and relate to
Listening to a presentation which lacks order or structure is like trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle with pieces from completely different sets.
Every audience needs clarity, coherence and flow.
Be mindful and objective rather than angry
It’s crucially important to make an emotional connection as well as an intellectual one.
An expression of anger is fine, just don’t dwell there.
Our audiences need to also feel hope, vision and some inspiration.
Too much bitterness isn’t very endearing.
Focus on solutions rather than everything that’s wrong
By the time we reach adolescence most of us have already mastered the art of telling everybody what’s wrong, it’s easy.
The challenge is focusing on the solutions and demonstrating a better way.
Never make it personal
It’s always disturbed me that so many politicians go out of their way to prove their point and make themselves look good by making others look bad.
The great speakers don’t have to belittle anyone.
They have a clear and powerful message designed to help their audience and they stick to it.
Make it personal for your audience but leave others out of it.
Sarcasm isn’t very charming
Have you ever noticed that sarcasm is often used by people who feel insecure?
It can be a defence mechanism to make us look stronger than we are at someone else’s expense. It can get a laugh but it’s not very charming.
Authenticity, communication and leadership aren’t always quite as simple for many of us to understand.
Like so many things in life our understanding and interpretation is governed by personal experience and perception.
I’m a huge advocate of authenticity when it comes to public speaking but not if it simply serves to:
Make yourself look good and others bad
Endorse rambling rather than focus
Centres largely on bitterness
Focuses too much on the problem rather than solution
Have a look at the video and see what you think.
If you’d like to learn more about authenticity in public speaking:
– Book them onto a powerful public speaking course.
– Invest in some really good one to one public speaking coaching.
– Get your team some excellent presentation training
Image: Courtesy of flickr.com