Last night I went to a talk on authenticity in the work place.
Some of it was good, and some really good. And unsurprisingly, given the subject matter of the talk, the moments that were most engaging were when the speakers were sharing their personal stories.
One brilliant lady, the chief executive of Stonewall, the LGBT lobbying charity, talked about her experience when she had just become chief executive and for a period lost her way as an authentic communicator. By trying to keep everyone happy, she became inhibited, thinking through every response rather than feeling and sharing her authentic passion.
Hearing her, you could sense the tragedy of this, because she was a thrilling speaker, articulate, passionate and utterly engaging. And I firmly believe that what made her so powerful as a communicator was her authenticity. She was behind all of her words, with no soundbites, no disingenuous attempts to give people what they wanted to hear. Instead her conviction bubbled through her speech, in her words, her body language and her energy.
If you are authentic, the audience will care
This is a powerful idea—that if we as communicators are whole-heartedly connected to what we are saying, then it’s going to be engaging for our audience. The more of ourselves we can bring to the table, the more of our hard-won life lessons, personal journeys and values we can share, the more compelling it is for our listeners.
So much of the value of life is in the experiences and learning that has cost us in some way. So when people dare to share the true stuff, our ears pick up. Particularly when the learning or experience has metamorphosed into wisdom.
We get to that kind of authentic communication by really getting to know our own values. What we are willing to fight for. The ideas that have consciously or unconsciously defined our life journeys. If what we are saying can connect to some of that internal drive, then boom, we’ve got traction.
So how do we use this idea?
Do you have a speech or presentation coming up for work? You may think at work, there’s not quite the same connection to your underlying life principles. But I challenge this, talking about your latest product in development may not skyrocket into life learning arena, but at London Speech Workshop we believe there is always room for authentic communication. So here’s some steps to finding it.
What about your company do you love? What about its culture makes you go—yeah, I’m happy to be here? What about your product, or offering or USP, makes you proud to be doing what you are doing? Find those things, list them out—and then see where your own values align with these ideas.
Once you’ve found the things you can be proud of, then you want to find where these ideas are alive in your presentation. These might be in some ideas, a new innovation. Wherever it is, scour it out, and underline it, because that’s where you want your energy to be. Once you are linking your own values to what you are saying in your presentation, your audience will start to feel it too.