You hear this advice in speaking, writing, crafting your elevator pitch – Be AUTHENTIC. Authenticity is the best way to connect with people.
Shouldn't it be super easy just to be yourself when you get up to speak? I mean who else would you be?
Then that voice comes into your head – “what if they don't like me? Man, this presentation really sucks. No one is going to buy what I'm selling.”
And that is the moment when the speaking actor comes out.
Acting is not speaking
To deal with nerves or to cope with the expectations about what a great speaker should do, a human being sheds the skin of their personality and jumps into speaker mode.
I am no longer Ted – I am Ted the speaker. It's acting! Brilliant!
The problem is that your audience can tell that you are no longer you. You've assumed a role. They notice a striking difference from when they chatted with you before the presentation to when you stepped on the stage.
The main diference between speaking and acting is this: speaking is about your audience and connecting with them while acting is about entertaining. An actor doesn't care a wit what their audience wants or needs. My friend and coach, Rich Hopkins, wrote an excellent post detailing the difference between acting and speaking.
Why do presenters act like speakers instead of build relationships like humans?
It boils down to vulnerability.
Getting in front of the room exposes your soft under belly. Those people in the audience may not like you. They may reject you. The supersonic dose of your personality might turn them off completely.
Basically, we all possess a Freddy Krueger fear of being REJECTED. You put yourself in front of that room and if they don't like you – they are going to reject you.
It's far easier to water down and tone down who you are so that you'll be more accepted. Trust me I've been asked time and again to tone it down a notch. However, when you try to appeal to everyone, you turn off everyone.
Vulnerability fosters authenticity
The only way to be authentic is to allow yourself to be vulnerable.
Put your personality unapologetically out there like a neon blinking sign of THIS IS WHO I AM.
You are either going to love me or hate me, but I am real.
The rejecters are going to reject you even if you tone down the real you. Don't act, be the vulnerable you who is made up flaws, foibles and imperfections. Your people who resonate with you – will passionately love you for it.
Got a question about reclaiming your authenticity as a speaker? Share it in the comments or email me to ask.