4 Ways to Represent Your Authentic Self During Public Speaking

December 12, 2018 by Alycia Angle

After the content is written, materials are prepped and reminders are sent, all that’s left is delivering your presentation. The old adages, “Be yourself; everyone else is taken” and, “Know your topic inside and out” are fundamentals for presenting authentically. Your main focus should be how you carry yourself and bring your A-game to ensure participants walk away with a valuable experience. Being an authentic public speaker means knowing what your brand represents and appropriately showcasing it to your audience.

In today’s skeptical and information-driven world, the ability to authentically communicate with others has become a coveted skill. When a public speaker has this attribute, he or she can inspire others and make an impact on individuals, teams and organizations. When a speaker doesn’t have it, a potential moment of connectedness falls flat. Here are four factors to consider to represent your most authentic self when speaking.

1. Storytelling

When speakers share real experiences, they appear authentic and connect with their audience. There are multiple ways to incorporate storytelling into your presentation. One method is to weave one, large story throughout the entire talk, with a key message. Here’s an example:

When speakers share real experiences, they appear authentic and connect with their audience. 

2. Attire

Dressing for a successful presentation is an art. You don’t have to be a fashionista to achieve mastery, though. The key to representing your brand authentically and being believable is feeling comfortable in your clothes. Consider well-known speakers and their fashion sense. Many of them wear the same style, whether they are in front of a group of senior executives or a crowd of 3,000 attendees. Be appropriate, but don’t cloud your brand by covering your unique style. For example:

If you want to wear a sparkly jacket or big, crazy hair, do it! You will be better known and remembered for staying consistent with your brand and dressing in a way that allows you to showcase your personality.

3. Energy

Building the right energy with participants means meeting the audience where they are. Don’t be over the top, or you’ll come off as inauthentic and as though you’re trying too hard. If you come in too low, you’ll lose the audience’s attention before you start.

The right elixir brings you to the sweet spot. You can’t do it alone, though; participants help create the energy. Aim to communicate, not to perform. When you refine your secret sauce, you won’t need to yell or dance around the room to grab people’s attention.

Aim to communicate, not to perform. 

If you connect your audience with your message, you will be more likely to engage them, because they will feel your passion and energy. You are transferring ownership of the knowledge from your mind to theirs. Your approach to energy is different for everyone and cannot be prescriptive, but here are some factors to consider:

4. Self-awareness

Being aware of your own behavior plays a critical role in authenticity. To improve self-awareness, consider video-recording your talk, even with a cell phone in the back of the room. You’ll notice mannerisms and ticks, like clutching the podium or clicker or repeating the same phrase 15 times. It’s essential to practice, but not by memorizing a script. Have your key points in bullets, on notecards or on slides, and talk around them. If you attempt to memorize your speech, you’re likely to forget a section or a line when your nerves have kicked into gear and your adrenaline is rushing, which could knock you off your game. When a talk is scripted, your message and nonverbals often don’t align, and the audience pays attention to the nonverbals.

Being aware of your own behavior plays a critical role in authenticity. 

Don’t rehearse for perfection, but practice in different ways:

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