I recently presented at a luncheon for an international biotechnology company. It was a talk I had given before and I knew my material really well. I was prepared with stories from my own life that demonstrated the points I wanted to make.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the comment by a participant when she came up to me after the presentation and said, “I so appreciate your vulnerability.” 

Interesting. I simply said, “Thank you.”

She responded, “I don’t see that in too many people and I appreciate seeing it in you. It makes me trust you.” 

No one had ever told me this before and my reflecting on her comment led me to the conclusion I was not being vulnerable, I was being authentic. 

Because at the end of the day, we want nothing more in life than to be ourselves. That’s the feeling we’re all chasing: that simple, awesome joy that comes from not having to pretend to be something we’re not. We call that feeling ‘authenticity.’

Jordan Harbinger

It has taken me years to get over the idea that I do not have to be the perfect presenter with the perfect outfit or the perfect makeup or the perfect talk or the perfect responses to the questions. What captures the audiences I speak to is my display of heart, truth in my own experiences, and demonstrating that human quality of imperfection that we try to so hard to hide. 

And I am an expert on imperfection.

Yes, that means that I am emotionally exposed in ways that can feel very scary, but for the sake of the learnings I want to convey, I’m willing to be scared.

I’m willing to feel that GULP and do it anyway.

My relationship with my audiences feels more intimate when I am authentic. The questions that come from the audience are deeper and more personal. The people who talk to me after share some very intimate things with me. 

The bottom line is that authenticity breeds authenticity. This is a space where one can feel close to others without even knowing them. Where we can find that commonality of simply being a human being in this world. 

Where in your life could you show more vulnerable authenticity?

Written by Pat Obuchowski