What does it mean to be authentic when you present or speak? People sometimes ask, “if I’m feeling scared, do I admit I’m nervous?” Or, “I have a sense of humor, can I really be funny when I present?” How can I be vulnerable without lacking credibility?
Being real can be a tricky thing. You want to bring who you are while maintaining credibility and showing confidence. This can be difficult, especially when the stakes are high. It’s definitely an art that takes practice. Here are some basic places to start:
If you’ve got a playful personality and the environment is appropriate – bring it! However, If you’re an incessant jokester out of some kind of self-defense mechanism, that’s not authentic. It’s a way to deflect, preventing real connection. You likely overuse that behavior to your own detriment – whether you are aware of it or not. It can be irritating to others who see through it and wish you would just be yourself.
If you’re a get down to business kind of person – let it show! On the flip side, overly polished and impenetrable behavior can also be a form of self-protection. This doesn’t allow people to relate or engage with you in a meaningful way. This can be a put off to those who wish you would drop some walls and just be human.
Authenticity is the genuine part of you that comes through when your ego is not in the spotlight. The ego can drive you to try and impress people, prove something, or defend yourself. Egos are a dime a dozen and boring. People tend to check out when you’re presenting from your ego because it’s all about you and your image. There’s no true impact or connection. Without a doubt, having a healthy sense of self is important. The difference I’m highlighting here is about balance. Simply remembering and focusing on authenticity could make the biggest difference in not letting your ego take center stage.
As you look to define your authentic voice, consider that your authenticity is made up of your strengths. You certainly have strengths, experience and a unique perspective. You’ll need to identify and believe in your strengths. This is your job and it’s critical that you do it. If you slack on believing in yourself, both you and others, including projects and relationships will suffer. Perhaps you are great at inspiring people and building solid relationships. Maybe you are great at analyzing the situation and seeing the bottom line. Other strengths include: empathy, strategic thinking, perceptive, intuitive, analytical, precision, delegation, big picture thinking, decisiveness, kindness, thoughtfulness, speaking, leading, directing, influencing, consistency, organization, ideation, accountability, creativity, problem-solving, etc.
This genuine part of you is irresistible. People recognize authenticity and they gravitate to it. It can be trusted. They will hear you differently when you come from a genuine place. The bottom line is that you need to own it and be it and bring it. Owning your strengths takes self love and compassion. It can take time and discipline to distinguish, but it’s well worth it. If you haven’t invested that time in yourself, do it now.
Many years ago I presented and showed up as the person I thought others wanted and would respect: very serious with a tough outer shell. Those presentations did not go well. When I decided to work with a coach and identify and harness my own unique strengths, people had a powerful experience of me. In turn, I was more effective in communication and had a much better time doing it. When I present today, I intentionally harness my strengths of kindness, care, a tough-love directness, and playfulness. It’s professional, authentic, and impactful. What strengths will you harness? What’s your irresistible and winning combination?
Nicki Gorini is an Executive and Life Coach who works with leaders to help them get ready for promotion and taking on their next level of roles. She focuses on executive presence, emotional intelligence, and mindset work creating sustainable transformation in people and organizations. For more information on coaching and other products email us at firstname.lastname@example.org