The Being True to Yourself Series, is a result of personal observations and experiences.
Authentic means being true to who you are.
It means not allowing a spin doctor, campaign manager, copywriter or another well-meaning advisor to change your way of speaking or behaving. Certainly there is a need to gain poise and polish, but this does not need to mean a loss of authenticity.
That is not to say we don’t evolve and change over time.
Of course, we do!
It’s part of life and the experiences we go through shape us as individuals. Some of us are very fortunate to have great role models and mentors come into our lives naturally. They help us evolve.
I am lucky to have had some wonderful influences, from a range of professional and cultural backgrounds in both my business and personal life.
When I embarked on my public speaking journey way back in 2004, or to be more accurate was thrust into it as a result of winning the Telstra NT Business Woman of the Year Award, I was a terrible speaker.
It was my biggest fear; I had to face it head on because there were expectations that went with the role. Expectations that I would travel around the country and speak at different functions.
Thankfully, I had wonderful support and improved no end, now I always receive excellent feedback. I developed and grew, but I have never lost my authenticity.
I will also never forget how hard it was to learn and how nerve-wracking.
The Turning Point
The turning point was when I received a very sage piece of advice.
It was simply ‘never lose sight of who you are; it’s what makes you unique’.
Those simple words gave me confidence and, amazing as it might sound, permission to be me.
I knew early on that I could not be a slick joke teller to break the ice, that’s not me.
I’m hopeless at jokes as I never remember the punch lines! I don’t try to tell them in the course of my normal conversations so how could I be expected to include them in a speech?
Sure, I’m not the same speaker I was 18 years ago. I’ve changed and evolved. A little older, a little wider physically and a little bit wiser, but I am still very much me.
How often have you a speaker and felt they were not genuine?
They may have something great to say, but because they are not using their own expressions, the words don’t ring true. They sound false even if they are genuine.
That’s because they are either, consciously or unconsciously, imitating someone or delivering a message in a style that is not their own.
The very best speakers in my book are those who have a passion for their subject and have had some training in public speaking, but remain true to who they are.
I’m told I am very perceptive because I detect subtle nuances, read between the lines and realise something is not quite right.
I have often come across materials purportedly written by high-profile individuals, yet the moment I read it, I just know, they have not written that article or blog post.
How do I know? The answer lies in the tone and ‘voice’ used.
The more prominent you are, the more public speaking appearances you will make. This makes is all the more important that written pieces, especially those that will go to print, sound like you.
It is for this reason that it is vital that speechwriters and ghost writers really try to understand an individual before writing for them.
The writing is the easy part, understanding who you are writing for is what makes the difference.
I’ve also noticed that authentic people are generally happier, less stressed people and will deliver their speeches with ease. Could that be because they are comfortable in their own skins, that they are true to themselves?
I’d love to hear your views and experiences on authenticity, either as a comment or email me privately.