In my recent guest post on Jeremy Jacobs' blog, my first point about public speaking fear was that you don't have to be friends with everyone.
People in the audience may or may not like you, and how people feel is just something that it's pretty impossible to control. Sure, you're warm and friendly, funny and smart. You're well-dressed, respectful and have a nice smile. You like long walks on the beach, drinking wine and watching sunsets . . . Oops. Wrong blog.
No matter how spectacular your personality is, it's a fact of life that you cannot connect with everyone.
But how about when you don't connect with anyone?
- Are you so concerned with presenting the "right" appearance that you end up buttoned-down, stuffy, and looking as gray and dreary as your suit?
- Are you so concerned with appearing "fun" that your patter is forced and you say things like, "How's everybody this morning? I can't hear you! I said, 'How's everybody this morning?'"
- Are you so concerned with coming across as intelligent that you are drowning your audience in a sea of statistics, charts, graphs, numbers, letters, symbols, fractions, decimals, percentages and, just for good measure, lots of jargon?
- Are you so concerned with being the "perfect" speaker that you turn yourself into a lifeless automaton?
If you're forcing yourself to fit a pattern or mold or style that's not you, it's not going to fit. And the audience will know it doesn't fit.
Your authenticity is shot the minute you try to be what you think you're supposed to be. You become unapproachable and inaccessible to the audience.
I don't like suits. I don't own a suit. Yet, I manage to dress myself properly when I speak to corporate groups. I want to dress appropriately for the audience and I want to "fit in." But I'm just not a suit kinda person. So I put together appropriate outfits that "suit" me and "suit" the audience without actually being suits (was that bad or what?).
What are you doing right now as a speaker that isn't you?
What are you doing right now as a speaker that's keeping you from connecting with your audience?
What are you doing right now as a speaker that's making you inaccessible and unapproachable?
Figure out who you are. Then be that.
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