Be Yourself in Public Speaking Because Everyone Else Is Taken!
Some years ago, two radio broadcasters were studying voice improvement with me. One, in particular, wanted me to make him sound like Paul Harvey. Paul Harvey was an icon and an original in the radio business. Part of his greatness was his originality. Wanting to emulate this announcer was not what the young broadcaster should have desired. Wanting to be himself should have been his goal.
In public speaking, part of your strength is your individuality. Do you know how many professional speakers talk about motivation or sales or marketing? Can you imagine if all sounded exactly alike?
One of the difficulties I have with Toastmasters is the ‘Toastmaster’ sound. While not true with all clubs, many of these groups push for a particular style, even a particular sound, which I can recognize immediately. What some often lack is the allowing for one’s own personality and one’s own style in speaking.
My goal for people wishing to pursue public speaking as a career or even those just interested in improving their presentation skills is to be themselves first and foremost. Your individuality is what others want to see and hear. They did not come to hear someone else – they came to hear you.
If everyone on the podium sounded like Anthony Robbins or Zig Ziglar or Brian Tracy what would be the point? When you listen to these internationally-renowned speakers, you will find that they are all different. Robbins’ energy is amazing; Ziglar’s stories are captivating; while, Brian Tracy’s enthusiasm is a bit more subdued. Each one shines in his own realm. I seriously doubt that any one of these speakers would want to be anyone other than themselves.
Your goal in speaking is to captivate your audience by making eye contact with them and acknowledging those on both sides of the room as well as in the center. You want to create an intimacy with them in which each person in the audience thinks you are talking directly to him/her. Expressing emotion, by means of your vocal variety, facial expression and body language, completes this picture.
Next time you have the opportunity to watch professional speakers, notice how they treat their audiences as if they were having a conversation in their living room. That is dynamic public speaking. And that can only occur when you can allow your own personality to shine through.
Trust in yourself and in your individuality and forget trying to be or sound like someone other than yourself because everyone else is taken.