Why Be More Authentic When Public Speaking by Peter Dhu

Oscar Wilde said, “be yourself, everyone else has already been taken”. Authenticity means that your outer expression matches your inner reality. Who you are on the outside is who you are on the inside. Who you are on stage is the same person that you are off stage. You act in ways that show your true self and how you feel. Rather than showing people only a particular side or aspect of yourself, you express your whole self genuinely and authentically. This concept of authenticity also relates to public speaking and training.

Public speaking and training are not a performance, and you are not acting or performing in a play. Audiences will know when you are faking it, or when you are not being true, when you are not being yourself. Being real is not about being what you think the audience wants. It is not like being a singer or an actor where you can be a different self when you are on stage and when it is off camera or off stage, they then show their true self. Public speakers, trainers and facilitators need to be authentic. That is who you are on stage needs to be who you are when you are off stage. Why do you need to be authentic when public speaking? Why does authenticity matter? There are several reasons why authenticity is important, and they include: –

  1. It Demonstrates Honesty – when you are a public speaker, you are helping people and with that they need real information. Honesty helps build trust and connection, and people are more likely to accept a message if they trust you. Kouzes and Posner in their book “The Leadership Challenge” found that in Australia the number 1 trait that employees admire and respect in their leaders is honesty. Authenticity not only helps in public speaking, it is also a leadership trait.
  1. Shows You To Be Genuine – always be yourself because the genuine or true you is what your audience needs to see. Who you are on stage needs to be authentic and genuine. Genuine means being the real deal. Genuine people also can build rapport and connect with their audiences better than fake inauthentic people.
  1. Helps with consistency – Always walk the talk because this helps your message. Authenticity helps you live and demonstrate the very message that you want people to follow. For example, the time management expert, who in their training course, starts 10 minutes late and runs 15 minutes over, may struggle with authenticity and their message.
  1. Builds trust – you can build the trust of your audience when you are authentic. People will believe in you and what you are doing. They can then apply what you have taught them to themselves because you made yourself an example.

We establish a barrier between ourselves and the audience when we hide behind content and performance. The audience wants to connect with their speaker, and it takes great courage to be who we are. It’s in the sharing of this authenticity that the audience see themselves and know it’s okay to be who they are. You are the message. So, be authentic, be you.

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