December 12, 2006

What makes you unique?

Each of us has qualities that make us unique. Each of us is unlike anyone else on the planet.

So why, as a speaker, would you want to model yourself after someone else?

I enjoy watching speakers who are engaging, entertaining, moving, intense, funny, bold, serene, and/or just plain brilliant. Do I learn from them? Of course!

But do I try to be like them on stage? No way! We all have lots of room for improvement, even the pros. I'm always learning new ways of engaging an audience, keeping their attention, and leaving them with a strong message when I'm done.

But one thing you won't see me doing is mimicking other speakers' personalities, mannerisms, vocal traits or physical movement - or following public speaking "rules" that don't work for me. I have my own ways of doing things. In fact, I don't like to watch too many speakers - I don't want to "study" them - because I don't want to start comparing myself to them.

It's the same way with my jewelry, and I've heard the same thing from many artists. If you spend too much time looking at other peoples' art, you might find yourself comparing, and sometimes judging yourself too harshly or feeling you're not good enough. Inspiration is a good thing, but in the long run, you have to be inspired by yourself.

There's a great post on being yourself at Nancy Tierney's blog. Thank you to Ross at Public Speaking Sucker for posting it first!

Nancy's basic point is that who you are is enough. You ARE good enough! It's pretty profound, but in a world where there's a new self-help book published every day, many of us spend way too much time trying to "fix" ourselves or find out what's "wrong" with us.

Who I am is my strength as a speaker. I'm lucky to have known this for a long time, and to have gotten very comfortable with who I am. My personality is my signature, or my "brand", if you will. If I tried to be like someone else, it just wouldn't work.

Read Nancy's post, and start thinking about what makes you unique. Cherish your uniqueness and, as Nancy says, "Make the choice to give this to yourself right now. Then, you can have a blast speaking or performing or dancing on your head in public, now and tomorrow and forever."

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