We have all heard speakers we would call ‘authentic’ but unpacking exactly what this means can be a bit confusing. Public speaking is a performance and so how can you perform and be authentic at the same time?
Although public speaking is a performance it is not the same as acting. As an actor, you are pretending to be someone else, but as a public speaker you are being yourself. In fact, the trick is to come across so naturally that it doesn’t look like you are performing!
But this highlights a paradox that many inexperienced speakers face. The advice to ‘be yourself’ is not overly helpful when you are trembling bundle of nerves. The advice does not actually mean for you to stand up and tell everyone how nervous you feel, then waffle on about your topic! You might look ‘real’ but in a raw, uncomfortable way that lacks professional credibility and leaves the audience squirming.
What you are really being asked to you to do is bring your best self to the stage – you ‘on form’. A high energy version of yourself. The self that you might bring to a job interview! And it takes a lot of practice to achieve that…Being ‘real’ is not quite enough. An authentic speaker also has confidence and credibility.
Let’s take a look at how you can develop the quality of authenticity. Make sure you read the last point – it takes time and you will have some awkward moments along the way. There is no need to be hard on yourself.
I get huge satisfaction from seeing the relief, pride, and even joy that people experience when they complete a course and reflect on the progress they have made. See what others say for some inspiring stories.