You can practice your presentations for hours on end. You can tell stories that are wildly engaging. You can have a delivery that is absolutely flawless.
But if your audience thinks it’s not the real you, you lose credibility and impact. Yes, when it comes to speaking, authenticity is the best policy. Here’s why:
1. Establish a personal connection
One of the reasons you should be a more authentic speaker is because it will help you establish a more personal connection with your audience or team. This is absolutely critical today, because we have fewer and fewer opportunities for face-to-face interaction. So much of our communication has become digital — more efficient, but less personal.
When you speak in front of a group, then, you need to make the most of your opportunity to establish a personal connection by being your authentic self. If you can make someone feel like they know you after just a few minutes of seeing you speak, you will forge a strong connection.
2. Get out of self-correction mode
Another reason you should be more authentic in your speaking is because you get out of self-correction mode. You may have the tendency to obsess over covering up all the parts of you that you think other people aren’t going to like. But that’s like getting out of the shower holding only a washcloth — you’ll never be able to cover up enough. So, stop trying to cover up, and just be yourself.
That doesn’t mean stop trying to improve yourself, but it does mean stop trying to be someone you’re not. By committing to authenticity, you will stop obsessing about what people think of you and start letting your personality shine through.
3. The Trump factor
Finally, authenticity is more important now than ever due to the election of Donald Trump. The way the President speaks undoubtedly influences communication in American business. Ronald Reagan influenced American communication with a style that was less rhetorical and more personal, and Trump represents a similar shift.
Regardless of what you think about his politics or personal life, part of Trump’s appeal was his free-wheeling, off-the-cuff style, which was perceived as more authentic than the measured tones of Hillary Clinton. Going forward, I am confident that we will see business leaders move toward emphasizing authenticity and personality in their communication, partially as a response to Trump’s success. So, if you want to capitalize on this trend, start thinking about how you can add more of your personality to your speaking.
By speaking authentically, you only will you be more comfortable, you will inspire your audience and build their trust in you as a leader.