When it comes to speaking, presenting or performing, each of us must decide how we are going to present ourselves to the world. We might each ask ourselves, “Will I create an image I think my audience will approve or will I risk presenting myself as I authentically am?” This question determines whether we will seek to be perfect or to be genuine. When you ask and answer this question, you have a chance to build a style of speaking based on your natural strengths. Here are seven tips to help you build a style based on being who you are rather than who you think you should be.
- Include your natural qualities. Make a list of qualities that describe your strengths, for instance – sweet, kind, funny, serious, intense, direct, knowledgeable. Bring those qualities into your talk or performance. There is a tendency for speakers to think they have to act a certain way. Resist the temptation to be any way you think you should and just go with being the person your close friends know you to be.
- Be Unique. Everyone has unique and quirky behaviors. Allow the quirky aspects of your personality to be a part of your speaking or performing style. Those personality quirks will be the marks of authenticity that your audience perceives with the eyes and ears of their hearts.
- Let your style be based on your natural rhythms. Introverts and extraverts have different rhythms for expression. Introverts are deep and inwardly focused, so their thoughts and words come from the depths of their being. If you are an introvert, let your self speak slowly and deliberately and thoughtfully. Don’t try to manufacture enthusiasm that is false for you. Extraverts are dynamic and outwardly focused. If you are extraverted, be large and dramatic. Don’t try to squash your natural energies or be too controlled.
- Say it like you would say it in real life. Speak, present or perform just like you are talking to friends in your living room. Ask yourself, “How would I really say this?” Then say it that way as if you were talking to a close friend.
- Give up trying to be perfect. Let your style be imperfect. Don’t try to speak like you write. Instead of trying to speak perfectly, focus on speaking the truth. When you tell the truth, you don’t speak in literary phrases. You let it come from your heart as you feel it.
- Realize that being perfect does not equate to being effective. Being effective does not have to do with your performance. It has to do with what happens to the listeners as a result of who you are being with them.
- Make space for your fear. Give yourself permission to feel your fear, anxiety or tension when you are presenting and performing. The fear is energy; it is power and passion. When you create space inside yourself to feel the fear, it converts into passion that causes your words to vibrate with electricity.