“Just be yourself,” is the advice people give you when you’re feeling nervous about speaking in front of a crowd. All you want to do is be your authentic self, but sometimes that doesn’t feel like that’s the best persona to put on the stage. Being your authentic self in front of any sized group of people is not easy for everyone. Sometimes we have to crawl through the negative self-talk, self-doubt, fear of judgement, and then just pray we’re saying the right things, all to have our really important message heard.

My clients who are invested in living an authentic life, and who are working on increasing their confidence, feel like imposters on stage. When I ask them how they felt about a recent presentation they tell me “oh, it went well enough, but I don’t feel good about it”. They don’t feel good, because they didn’t feel like they showed their best selves, their authentic selves. I get it. I too have suffered from what Brene Brown calls vulnerability hangover after giving a presentation.

It’s because of my own experiences and these fabulously authentic human beings that I want to share three strategies to combat the negative self-talk and self-perceived inauthenticity for public speakers. We practice these strategies in our sessions and classes until participants can own the confidence they naturally have (yes, that’s the natural confidence that they already have before the nasty voices in their heads set in).

1. Stay present to your intention or your why

There is a really good reason why you want to be on that stage. While I may not know it personally, I know that your why must be incredibly honourable and valuable, and that it will serve others to hear it. Why else would you to be willing to stand in front of others and take a risk while your brain is telling you to run?

  • Write down your intention and refine it to include what you want the outcome of your presentation to be and for what purpose. You can even state your intention during your presentation. Trust in that intention.
  • Come from that place of serving your audience as you speak. This will support you and ground you as you show your authenticity.

2. You don’t have to talk, move, or say things like anyone else.

I had the pleasure of hearing Quiet Leadership Coach Faris Khalifeh speak on what it means to be introverted. I always felt I had to speak like an extrovert (i.e. Tony Robbins) to be viewed as a credible, respected, and likable speaker. But that’s simply not the truth. Faris’ talk opened my mind to a whole new way of knowing myself, and embracing the way I do things as a mostly introverted person. Because of that I’ve developed these easy work-arounds:

  • If you have a quiet voice, that’s okay. Just make sure to have a microphone available when you speak to larger groups.
  • If you don’t naturally have big body movements or walk around while talking, don’t do it on stage. Focus on what you do naturally, like good eye contact, and enhance that body language to connect with your audience.

When you do these two things, you naturally increase your confidence because you trust yourself more. You’re not trying to remember to act like someone you’re not. You can focus on doing what you do best like observing the reaction of your audience and then you can adjust your level of delivery to engage them authentically.

3. Get feedback on how you come across, even when you feel like you’re not confident.

When my clients tell me that they don’t feel good about how their presentation went, I ask them what audience members said to them after. 99.99% of the time, they have people coming up to them telling them how much they appreciated the presentation and wanting to talk more. When I watch clients present after having had the right amount of support and preparation, 99.99% of the time they present with all of the key elements of authenticity and credibility. It takes consistent feedback over time to align how you view yourself as being inauthentic on stage with how others perceive you as being engaging, natural, and valuable.

  • Find a credible source to provide you with feedback on how engaging your delivery was and if your message met its goal.
  • Notice how many people speak to you after your presentation, and what they say. If that feedback is positive, take time to resonate with it.

Believing these positive truths that are being reflected back to you by your audience is a habit that will increase your authentic confidence, and is a skill worth developing.

Just you, your authentic you, is enough to engage your audience and feel good about your stage persona. It takes effort, practice, and the right support to be confident in that truth, but just by reading to the end you’ve taken a step to giving that to yourself. My door is always open via email if you have any questions, or comments, or want some quick feedback yourself. May it serve you and many others for you to share your message and your authentic self far and wide!

~ Janine Graham

email: janinegraham@soapboxspeakers.com

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