Imagine you’re a middle manager at a prestigious company. You have the chance to make a good impression on top executives by giving a presentation at a company-wide meeting.
Although you’re naturally a gregarious person, you feel you should adopt a more formal image. You carefully script the whole presentation, even practicing where and when to gesture with your hands. The big day comes, and in your attempt to follow the script, you neglect to make eye contact with your audience. Struggling to remember when to move your hands, your words and gestures don’t line up. Your natural friendliness does not shine through. In the end, you come off as wooden and off-base. You seemed inauthentic and did not elicit your listeners’ attention and agreement.
These are one of the doom days that public speakers do experience. And this could be prevented over time and with practice. In this article we would discuss three ways to cultivate authenticity as a public speaker.
First, let your gestures and tone match your content.
People’s natural and unstudied gestures are often indicators of what they will think and say next. If we try to control our gestures, our words and motions might get out of sync and confuse our listeners. Rapid movements, studied gestures, nervous tics, and other physical tells detract from your image of authenticity.
Secondly, never speak from a script.
Authenticity implies naturalness. Reading from a script is the opposite of natural: it is forced and often stilted. Moreover, it takes you away from connecting with your audience by limiting you to standing at a podium and keeping your eyes on the script instead of your listeners. Even if you have access to a teleprompter, you will be more fluid and flexible if you stay tuned in to your audience, know your material cold, and speak from a notecard of high-level points rather than adhering to a script.
Lastly, be vulnerable but don’t over-share.
Allowing yourself to show your humanity is a good thing. Blurting out personal information is not cool. As presentation skills expert Judyth Jernudd says, “Delivering a speech is not therapy.” Share personal information only if you are confident that doing so will not make anyone uncomfortable. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that sharing offensive content is a sign of authenticity; on the contrary, that kind of honesty shows a lack of judgment.
With these tips above, you are on your way on making that big pitch count.
Article by: Sandra Ankomah | univers.ug.edu.gh