“Always be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”
In my last post, I introduced you to the “ABC’s of Executive Speaking” framework. This post will explore the “A” of the ABC’s – Authenticity.
With every passing day, the world of the executive speaker continues to evolve. This evolution presents challenges that many executive speakers have never previously addressed. From the virtual meeting, to the webinar, to the teleseminar, to the promotional video – all of these opportunities test the ability of an executive speaker to create, organize and deliver memorable and effective content that informs, influences and energizes every audience.
Some speakers meet these challenges by choosing to emulate the speaking techniques of other, notable speakers without first analyzing their own style and effectiveness. Executive speaking is hard enough without adding a layer of imitation on your speaking style that is, after all, borrowed at best and seldom done seamlessly.
What you need as an effective executive speaker is Authenticity.
As Shakespeare wrote, “This above all, to thine ownself be true.” It is an admonishment all executive speakers should take to heart. To be true to oneself implies that you have introspective knowledge of yourself that is honest and unfiltered. This is not always easy to do. Why?
Because it takes time. Introspective reflection requires openness to input from others and, above all, acute self-awareness. Armed with this level of “trueness”, a speaker can rely on their innate qualities, trust their instincts and have confidence that, “I know what I know” is sufficient a platform to take and control the stage wherever that may be.
To be an Authentic executive speaker you must be Genuine, Credible, Valid, Legitimate, and Trustworthy.
A genuine speaker has a quality of self, based on the deeply derived trust one earns from confronting themselves through honest examination. The authentic speaker knows what they know, feels what they feel, and maintains an aura of discernable genuine character capable of supporting and enhancing their influential aspirations. It’s hard to be genuine when you are not being yourself.
There is an unwritten rule for all speakers, “I will do no harm to my audience.” Because of this, you have a credibility card you should never play when speaking. Playing your credibility card card asks an audience to forgive your intentionally misstated facts, policies and information. All professional speakers know that the most important character you bring to the stage is that of truthfulness. Truthfulness that holds the highest respect for your audience, while safeguarding them from harm through falsehood. In order to be held as a leader of the highest repute, executive speaking demands credibility of the highest level as well.
Executives are often charged with the responsibility of increasing an organization’s worth. When you speak as an executive, the value of what you say can increase an organization’s worth as well. Deepening the understanding of complex initiatives, policies, and vision can engage a workforce, unite stakeholders, and increase loyalty among customers.
Simply put, flapping your gums based on the authority of your title just doesn’t qualify as effective executive speaking in today’s business world . You must bring inspiration, intensity and insight into your speaking content in order to create the memorable and repeatable outcome you need and should desire.
Your audience will value your perspective, concreteness of fact, and the sincerity of your intent. Your content must be timely, accurate and impact them in a meaningful way.
Nothing less will do.
This is where the rubber meets the road in executive speaking. It is the point at which your style and your substance unite, creating an unbreakable bond between you and your audience. Being a legitimate executive speaker presents itself through the actions you take while on stage.
It is through your speaking legitimacy that you demonstrate the following:
That you confidently own content that is originally yours
That you fully credit any content you have borrowed from others
That you willingly and humbly share what you have learned with your audience.
Now ask yourself, “Am I doing this when I speak?” If you honestly are, then you are being an authentic executive speaker.
Steven Covey wrote, “Trust is a must”.
I believe that every executive speaker’s goal is to build a lasting relationship with their audience. In my work with my clients, we spend considerable time on relationship building. First with themselves and secondly with their audiences. At the core of this work is the understanding that all relationships spin on a hub of trust.
Therefore, as an authentic executive speaker, your principle responsibility is to leave your audience feeling comfortable and trusting in the content you have shared. Helping your audience trust you by showing them you trust yourself through both words and actions will increase their trust in you and thereby your effectiveness. This sense of being trustworthy is the cement that sets the bond between speaker and audience.
THE AURA OF AUTHENTICITY
In the end, Authenticity is not something you can walk into Executives R’US and buy off the rack, take to work, hang it on a hook in your corner office, and slip into whenever the occasion calls. Authenticity is an integral character of self and a practiced behavior as a speaker. You can strive for it, achieve it and own it when you practice being Genuine, Credible, Valid, Legitimate, and Trustworthy every time you get the opportunity to speak in your executive capacity. It may start out as a challenge, but eventually you will find that it fits you to a tee. And, your audiences will appreciate and thank you for being authentic when you speak.
Thanks for your support as a reader of my blog and I eagerly welcome any comments on how you’re thinking about achieving the possibility of your promise. Also, I would appreciate any suggestions you might have for future posts in this blog on a topic near and dear to you in the comments section below. As always, please feel free to share this post with a friend or colleague.
To Your Speaking Success.
The Speech Wiz