Public Speaking: What Makes You Unique?

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Each of us has qualities that make us unique. Each of us is unlike anyone else on the planet.

So why, as a speaker, would you want to model yourself after someone else?

I enjoy watching speakers who are engaging, entertaining, moving, intense, funny, bold, serene, and/or just plain brilliant. Do I learn from them? Of course!

But do I try to be like them on stage? No way!

We all have lots of room for improvement, even the pros. I’m always learning new ways of engaging an audience, keeping their attention, and leaving them with a strong message when I’m done. You may like the energy level of one speaker, or the powerful voice of another. But be careful when striving to emulate; inspiration is a good thing, but in the long run, you have to be inspired by yourself.

In a culture where there are 50 new self-help books published every day (or more), many of us spend way too much time trying to “fix” ourselves or find out what’s “wrong” with us instead of embracing the special qualities that make us great.

Former senator and current presidential candidate John Edwards says in one of his online “webisodes”:

“I’d rather be successful or unsuccessful based on who I really am, not based on some plastic Ken doll. But . . . we’re so conditioned to say what’s safe . . . and it’s hard to shed all that.”

It’s that same fear expressed by so many of us, that the real “us” is just not good enough, or that we have to fit into some mold to be accepted. What would happen if you just decided not to be like other speakers and just be “you?” Would some people not like you? Maybe. Would you miss out on an occasional speaking opportunity? Maybe. Would the world come to an end? Absolutely not.

We all have insecurities. As speakers or performers, we’re all concerned with our image to some degree. Some don’t like how their voices sound. Some wish they were taller, or shorter, or thinner. Some of us have speech impediments.

The things that you consider “flaws” may not be noticeable to most people. And even if they are noticeable, they are most likely only considered flaws by YOU.

The reality is that being “you” is the best thing you can do for yourself and for your audience. It’s how you build trust with your audience. It’s how you build a relationship with the audience. They want to relate to and connect with a real person, not a robot. And if some people don’t love you . . . well . . . so what? It’s really not possible to be loved by everyone, so just let that go.

A few years ago, a friend gave me a tiny beaded pouch, with ten tiny squares of paper inside, each one printed with something about me.

“You have a great voice.” “You’re fun to be with.” “You’re strong.” “You’re creative.” “You’re intense.”

It was a touching gift, and one I still have. This is someone who knows me as well as I know myself, or better.

Do you know who you are? What would your ten squares of paper say?

It’s one thing to know who you are on the inside, but it’s another thing to share it with the world – with pride.

Those little squares of paper describe parts of my personality. My personality is my signature – my “brand” – if you will.

What’s your brand? What makes you unique? What do people remember about you when you walk off the stage?

You don’t have to mimic other speakers’ mannerisms, vocal traits or physical movement – or follow public speaking “rules” that don’t work for you. Create your own way of doing things. Provide the audience with the connection that they desire with a human being, not a robot.

Cherish your uniqueness. It makes you stand out in the crowd.

Lisa Braithwaite works with individuals to uncover their challenges and build their strengths in presenting themselves confidently as speakers. Find your voice with public speaking coaching! Sign up for my newsletter and find out about my e-course and free consultation by visiting www.coachlisab.com.

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