March 8, 2011

The audience has heard it before... how do you make it yours?

If you watch American Idol, you'll hear this a lot from the judges: "Put your own spin on the music. Make it your own." However, the more inexperienced the performer, the harder it is for them to do.

Here's an example from a recent episode. Rachel Zevita is sitting in the hot seat, not knowing if she's going to be added to the top 24 contestants or if she's going to be sent home.

Rachel: I kept trying to figure out what you guys wanted to see from me.

Randy Jackson: We want to see you always. We only wanna see you

Jennifer Lopez: You can't be wondering "What does that person in the third row want me to do? Why isn't he smiling?" That's not what it's about. It's about doing something really sincere from your heart. You feel it, they feel it, and then it all works.

As a speaker, you do want to serve the audience and give them what they want. But not at the expense of being your true self.

If you try to mimic another speaker (or mimic another singer, as in the case of many Idol contestants), you just look like a hack who has no voice of her own. You may sound great, you may have a compelling message, but your audience can't quite connect with you, because you are unoriginal. They've heard it before, and expressed in exactly the same way.

There's a big disconnect when you try to copy someone else's mannerisms, vocal patterns or speaking style; you seem insincere and the audience can't quite "feel" the real you. Your message might be the same as someone else's, but only you can deliver it in your own unique way.

What makes you unique?

What's your own personal spin on the topic?

What's your individual point of view?

What makes you stand out from others?

What's original about the way you express yourself?

Dig deep. Know yourself. Actively answer these questions when preparing your presentation. Then use it to make your content, message and delivery stand out as uniquely your own.

Remember: The audience wants to see you. They only wanna see you.

Here's Rachel's original audition:

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