Great news! The most important thing you can do to connect with your audience is (drum roll please) be yourself. No kidding. You don’t have to be beautiful, funny, or even charismatic. If you happen to be any of these things; congratulations! Use your gifts wisely. The rest of us will have to be content with just being ourselves. Frankly, it’s the most important thing you can be, and here’s why.
Whenever we meet someone for the first time, the first thing we’re determining, immediately and virtually unconsciously, is our level of trust. If the person we’re meeting makes eye contact, smiles warmly, even shyly, and feels authentic and sincere, we allow ourselves to trust him or her, albeit provisionally at first. The longer we come in contact with this person and the more consistent their behavior, the more trust develops. Conversely, if we meet someone who doesn’t make eye contact, doesn’t smile, doesn’t feel authentic and sincere, our guard immediately goes up. We will be skeptical and distrusting of that individual. What’s more, it will take a lot of time and effort on his or her part to negate our first impression.
What occurs in a one-on-one meeting is that same dynamic we experience when watching a presenter. Our first concern, before subject matter, length of speech or even viewpoint, is trustworthiness. In plain language the audience wants to know; “Are you for real?” “Do YOU believe what you’re saying?” “Are you willing to let us in?” “Do you really care about us?” If the answers to these questions are affirmative, they will let you in. They will trust you. They will listen.
Therefore, it is absolutely imperative that you be yourself. Trust your audience to accept you for you, unfunny, overweight, bald. Who cares? You’re not asking them to be you, you’re asking them to listen to you. One-of-a-kind, sincere, authentic, 100% you. Once they see that you’re the real deal, then and only then are they open to what it is you have to say. So take a deep breath, throw your shoulders back and be the only thing you and only you can be; yourself.
Copyright 2007 bespeak