Sometimes, when we’re asked to speak or make a presentation or give a media interview, we strain to say what we think we OUGHT to say, in a way we think we OUGHT to say it.
Two quotes from very different people, on very different topics, go to the heart of something anyone who speaks in front of others needs to embrace: authenticity.
Let’s look at the two quotes, and see how they address this issue.
The first quote is from master musician Carlos Santana. In a documentary about blues legend B B King, Santana listed the five qualities he believes you need to sing the blues. Here’s his list of five qualities:
- For real
Without those, he said, “you sound like a parakeet singing something you don’t understand.”
The second quote comes from author, speaker and leadership coach Lea Brovedani. It’s simple:
“If you want others to trust you, trust yourself first.”
Let’s merge the ideas behind these two quotes, so we can take some of the stress out of public speaking.
It’s about believing in your message, and believing in yourself. Being true to yourself. Let’s face it, authenticity is what our audiences are looking for from us when we speak or make presentations.
Most audiences want to support a speaker. What stops them is the feeling that the speaker is putting on a ‘front’, and not being completely open with them. In other words the speaker is sounding like Santana’s parakeet, singing something he/she doesn’t understand or believe in.
So next time you give a speech, presentation or interview, trust yourself first. Be true to yourself. As Lea said in a blog: “If someone were to refer you to a doctor they didn’t really believe in, would you trust their recommendation? Of course not. So why oh why would you believe anyone would trust you, if you don’t trust yourself first?”
Ultimately what will convince your audience is your sincerity, your authenticity, not your slick slideshow. In our presentation skills workshops we like to remind participants of the words of actor Judy Garland:
“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.”
The best speakers are like the best blues singers: sincere, honest, true, for real, genuine. Try it. See if it strikes a chord with your audiences.
Neil Everton has distilled a lifetime’s experience with some of the world’s top news organizations into his Media Mastery training aids for anyone worried about talking to reporters. The video, books, e-books and workbooks are available in the Podium Coaching online store.