If I say, ‘be completely you’ when you’re speaking to an audience, in fact, be exactly the same as you are meeting friends, in front of the TV or doing whatever makes you feel good at the weekends – what’s your gut reaction?
A knot in your stomach at the thought of presenting you? ‘Ummm that’s all very well but….’ or maybe ‘Yes but I’m an INTROVERT, I can’t do that’.
I don’t know about you, but generally speaking, we human beings find it reeeally difficult to be the same person from situation to situation.
I sometimes catch myself changing my personality from place to place, depending on where I am and who I’m with to try to fit it.
In fact, it’s actually perfectly natural to adapt our traits – becoming louder, quieter, ‘the performer’ or even pick up other people’s characteristics or accents to become accepted.
It’s all a survival technique, wanting to fit in with the tribe.
BUT HOW DOES THIS TRANSLATE WHEN WE HAVE TO SPEAK IN FRONT OF AN AUDIENCE?
Whether it’s on social media or in front of a live crowd, it can be all too easy to try to please. We see what ‘works’ for other people and adapt who we are and what we do / say / think to get them to like us… whilst forgetting our fundamentals.
They’re there to watch us speak for what we do / say / think. For our opinions, thoughts and feelings. Yes, we need to make sure we connect with our audience through our delivery and content, but it’s a fine line. Too many alterations to what we think and how we deliver it and we begin to lose our sense of identity.
Suddenly we become a carbon copy of what everyone does / says / thinks and the whole point of people rocking up to watch us do our thing has gone.
So with that in mind, here are three steps we can take to make sure we keep our uniqueness when speaking –
- Have a key message. What are you trying to get across? What is the point of you saying what you’re saying?
- Work out what really matters. Make sure that everything you’re saying backs up your key message.. Don’t get distracted and go off on a tangent. It’ll only confuse and you’ll lose your audience!
- Tell stories! We, as humans, love stories. Share a personal experience that helps back up what you’re saying, but also lets us in and helps to see the real you. One of my favourite TED talks is by Jill Bolte Taylor. As a brain researcher, she tells us about studying a stroke whilst realising she is having one herself. Using storytelling to bring her experiences alive, she describes – ‘…in that moment my right arm went totally paralysed by my side. And I realised, “Oh my gosh! I’m having a stroke! I’m having a stroke!” And the next thing my brain says to me is, “Wow! This is so cool. This is so cool. How many brain scientists have the opportunity to study their own brain from the inside out?”
- Show us how it matters to you! Demonstrate through your delivery how this matters to you. Engage people with your passion. Use your voice and your body language to show how much you care. Enthusiasm is catching – get other people hyped up & talking about it too!
So next time you have a speaking gig, give these things a go to own your truth and rock your stage time. You’re the only one who can communicate to the world exactly how you see and feel things. Get other people seeing and feeling it too. You’ll be one step closer to starting a movement.