Here’s a great blog post about the very nature of authenticity while doing public speaking. The writer starts off talking about a great public speaker, but then realizes that she can never be the great speaker that he is, because she’s a different person and can never do what that person does.
While it is tempting to try to replicate another’s techniques, what I’ve discovered after years of presenting all types of information to all kinds of audiences in every format possible is that it’s not about being funny or quick, it’s about being authentic.
She’s exactly right about that, but sometimes the problem is that it’s hard to be yourself right from the start. It’s important to be authentic, but standing in front of a crowd can make you forget your own name, let alone all the words that you are trying to say.
Lets say we were going to try to emulate the complete style of another speaker, like Christopher Walken for instance. He has such a unique style of speaking when he is in front of the camera that it would take quite a bit of training to really nail his body language, long pauses and tone of voice. Even if we did nail it, the result would most certainly be humorous. As most of us have probably seen, the better a person/actor can imitate Christopher Walken, the funnier it is. This is great if we are training to be comics, but doesn’t help us reach our end goal of identifying who we are as speakers and bringing that out of us.
Authenticity trumps just about everything when talking to people. So much so that a crowd is very forgiving of imperfections when they see sincerity, truth and genuineness in your delivery.
Authenticity first. Fine tune the details second.
Sean Evangelista is CEO at Podium Pro, the iPad App for public speaking domination. Coming soon to The App Store. He lives in Virginia Beach with his family and 2 dogs.