When you deliver a presentation do you really know who you are and for that matter who your audience is? This is so important if you want to get your message across and be remembered.
We are told all the time that we should be ourselves when we present, and I completely agree with this, because the adage that people buy people is absolutely true.
The word authentic is being used so much these days, but what does it actually mean when it comes to speaking in person or virtually.
I believe authenticity is being true to you and your audience. I’ve just finished reading a book called ‘Be Heard Now’ by Lee Glickstein where he talks about ‘Relational Presence’. He describes this term as the ability to see the people we are speaking to, and allow them to see us.
How Our Audience Sees Us
I believe being authentic means being open with your audience. It’s so important to be you and the real you. People can sense when speakers aren’t being genuine, and when they sense it, they immediately switch off. We often see people who look like caricatures of how they imagine a great speaker to be. Perhaps they’ve copied some traits from someone they admire or a style which they think looks good. The real you may not be perfect but it’s so much better than being someone else - as Oscar Wilde said ‘Be Yourself; everyone else is taken’.
Now of course, it’s human nature to want to be the perfectly polished, perfectly delivered, perfect looking person on stage, but when you try and do that you can do a lot more harm than good!
Now, of course, iand deliver your talk in the best possible way, but it shouldn’t be a performance that doesn’t come naturally to you. Instead, look and act and sound more like your everyday self and you’ll connect more effectively with your audience.
Now, of course, and deliver your talk in the best possible way, but it shouldn’t be a performance that k. It may be an extension of them, in other words, a bit more expressive with a more projected voice and well thought out body language, but it should come naturally. The way I put it is, if an audience member believes you to be the same person when they have a coffee with you after your talk as the one they’ve just seen on stage, you’ve probably got it about right!
Finally, the authentic you should have integrity and sincerity, which reminds me of another quote, this one by the great American comedian, George Burns:
If you want to connect with your audience, don’t even think about being anyone else other than the true and real you!
How you see your audience
Even if we are presenting in a really natural way, it will still be seen as unnatural if we don’t connect with our audience. To do that we need to understand their needs and put them at ease. This means the right (natural) body language and vocabulary that they’ll understand.
Although you will want to be as close to perfect as possible your audience will actually really appreciate your honesty and humility. In fact, no one will care if you’re not perfect; most will people love it because they aren’t perfect either!
A great speaker will always focus on their audience and it’s the connection the speaker forms with their audience that will move them and make them want to learn more. Essentially, they are interested in the information you’re sharing and what result it’s going to have for them. If you don’t make the connection with your audience they may still smile and clap for you at the time, but they’ll never recommend you or want to hear you speak again.
You already have what it takes to be authentic. It’s the real you, so just be the best possible version of you; relax, connect with your audience and enjoy the experience.
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