How to be Real When You Speak
by Arvee Robinson
Do you have naked authenticity and are you “real” when you speak in public?
First of all, let’s take a look at what “naked” means. In the dictionary, it is defined as “bare of any covering; stripped of overlying matter; without the customary cover, container or protection.” Think about being without protection or being vulnerable when you speak in public.
What does authenticity mean? It means the quality of being authentic or genuine.
What does naked authenticity mean? It is being as real as you can be. I am going to give you some ideas on how to give powerful speeches that are nakedly authentic. Even though you may think you’re already real, you can probably go deeper and discover new depths within yourself. I want you to be comfortable with discovering your authentic self and learn how to be real when you speak before an audience.
Let’s use the acronym REAL.
R stands for the Right Thing
Always do the right thing. Have integrity when you speak, not only with your message, but also with the way you act on stage and the way you act off stage with your colleagues, clients and potential customers.
I know of this famous A-list speaker who was promised a large audience by the promoter because she is in great demand. For her, to get on a plane and go to an event for just a few people is not something she will do. In this particular case, she was promised 500 people. (There were several A-list speakers at this event, including myself, and when we speak, we know we are going to enroll people into our programs, which can be worth thousands of dollars per person. The more people in the audience, the greater the return.)
In this particular instance, when the speakers walked into the room there were only 20 people there. This woman speaker was very upset and left as soon as she was done speaking and selling (She probably didn’t sell very much because she was not real and authentic). The other speakers stayed and made sales, even out of the 20. They were able to help people.
Being real and doing the right thing means doing the right thing not just for you, but also for everyone involved. This particular woman thought it was the right thing for her to leave since there weren’t many people in the room, but it wasn’t right for those 20 who came or the promoter of the event.
What is the right thing to do for your audience? Sometimes it’s hard, but I guarantee that every single time that you do the right thing, great things will happen.
For example, I recently had the opportunity to speak at a two-day event. It was this young lady’s first event, and she was learning as she went along. Unfortunately, what you don’t know can cost you. There were eight speakers for an audience of 10. A lot of those speakers could have had an attitude, but they didn’t. They did the right thing and stayed. I stayed the entire two days. I was going to leave, but I stayed out of respect for the promoter. As someone who has held events, I always appreciate the people who stayed. Most people in that situation would have blown off the speech and left.
[SPEAKING TIP: When you are invited to speak on a bigger stage, promoters like speakers who stick around, who get involved, and are committed to the event. If you stay, you are more apt to be “top-of-mind” when they’re looking for speakers for their next event. If you’re ever a speaker at a three-day event and you’re speaking on Saturday, I recommend that you stay the entire time. Not only will it increase your sales because it increases your visibility, but it will increase the probability that you will be invited back to their next event. I know what I’m talking about because for 9 years I’ve held my “Speak Your Wealth” and “Go for the Gold” seminars and invited people back who supported my event.]
Even though there were almost more speakers than audience members at this young lady’s event, it was one of the best events I’ve attended because a lot of the speakers reached out to me. Since that time, I’ve had dinner with one and held a conversation with another about creating an event together–all because we did the right thing and stuck around and supported the promoter.
As a public speaker, don’t be upset if your audience numbers are low. It might not be why you’re there. It might be that you’re there for a different reason– maybe not to sell to that audience but to meet other speakers and form something bigger and greater than that one event. That’s what happened to me at this event.
In addition to the relationships I developed with the speakers, I met three powerful ladies who were helpers at the event. I was looking for something to eat for lunch (they only had fast food there, which I don’t eat) and walked by them. I asked them where I might purchase healthier food. They offered me their own. I sat down with them for an hour and they told me amazing stories about their lives. In the 70s, they took off their clothes and shoes, put on robes and walked for Jesus all around the country. One walked for six years, one walked for eight years, and one walked for twenty years! I have invited them to my next Gathering (September 26) to sing and share their stories.
The lesson here is that when you are real and authentic, you will attract great things that might change your life.
E is for Energy
When you are speaking in public, you have to have over-the-top energy. You have to be excited and really love where you’re at and whom you’re with.
There are so many speakers out there who must bore themselves when they speak. They don’t even try. They just talk and talk. They’re not even looking at their audience to see if people are bored or not.
You have to be aware of your audience. You have to be willing and able to shift your topic to give them what they want. You can also change the state of the room. If it’s hot and everybody is getting tired, have them stand up and meet five new people in the room. That will change not only their physical state, but it will pick up the energy of the room. It’s up to you. You are in control of the room.
A is for Action
You have to take action. You also have to get your audience to take action. In my “Speak up, Cash In” seminar, I talk about how audiences have changed over the years and how speakers have changed to meet their needs. In the 70s audiences were lectured. In the 80s they wanted a presentation. In the 90s they wanted a conversation and now audiences want an experience. This is what your audience expects now, but this is already changing.
What’s coming in the future? Audiences will want their speakers to be real, to be down-to-earth real.
Does that mean that people don’t want a conversation, or a presentation, or an experience? They want all that — but, most of all, they want their speakers to be real! Most speakers are not real. Audiences want you to be authentically real — to be exposed and show who you really are.
L is for Love
It’s important to realize that audiences want to feel love and be loved in every way. To build rapport with your audience, show them the love. So many speakers step on the stage in a state of ego. That used to work, but it doesn’t work anymore. People are hip to all those sales tactics.
People want to fall in love with you. If you are authentic, they will. Don’t worry about selling — if you are real, they will buy from you because of who you are. They will buy the solution you offer because you are authentic.
How do you get real? You might think you are already real, but you may need to reveal more of yourself.
Let me share this story about how I started speaking and learned to be real. My first speaking experience came when I was working in Corporate America. That’s where I practiced my public speaking skills. I learned quickly not to mention certain things on stage or at the water cooler; things like faith, religion, politics, or controversial opinions. While in Corporate America, I developed certain speaking habits, like an ingrained programming, and spoke as a trainer.
When I came out of that world, I continued to compartmentalize my feelings, my thoughts, and my faith. I only spoke about the facts, just like my cut-and-dried training. It was very one-dimensional. You can’t be real after 23 years of Corporate America. I had to get real to reach my audience.
It took time for me to shed my programming. It is not an overnight process. Getting real is a speaking journey. The only way to get there is to continue to speak, continue to try things on, and continue to delve into your real self and see if you’re authentic.
Are you just showing up with all your protection and coverings on? We are wired that way. When we go out in the world, we put on our armor. We go out on the stage with that same covering. It is to protect us from not being liked. I’m not saying you have to be exposed for the entire 90 minutes, but you have to show some vulnerability. You have to be real and continually strive to be authentic in everything you say.
One day, six years ago, I heard my speaking mentor say from the stage, “I prayed about it.” I looked around to see if anybody was gawking or surprised by his comment. No one was. I was shocked. I began to notice that other speakers like Lisa Nichols and Les Brown talked about their faith fro the stage. I even heard Oprah Winfrey say on her last show, “the one and only GOD!”
Little by little I began to integrate God into my speeches. I’m not saying you have to do that, but for me to be real, I could no longer compartmentalize my faith. I had to let people know who I was and what I believed. If I faked it and covered it up, and it came out one day, people would be surprised or disappointed. (Understand, that I don’t preach from the stage, but I sometimes talk about my personal faith when it feels right.)
When I was speaking recently, there was a woman in the training who said, “What is this? Catechism?” She left. When I was told this, I thought, that’s okay because she is not one of my people. If I am being real, I will attract people who are like me. I will attract people who are believers, who are of faith, and who know there is a God. If I had tried to compromise my faith just for her, I would have lost my authenticity.
Earlier in my career, I was always accommodating my audience. If they wanted me to speak about a “higher power” or say I was a cat lover, I would. I didn’t want to lose anyone in the audience by being too real, too much like me. Finally I said, no more! I am going to be real. I am going to stand in my faith. I am going to say I love dogs. Those are the kind of people I attract.
When you’re real — whatever that is to you — the more you share, the more like people you will attract. Be the real you on stage and the right people, the real people, will be attracted to you. They will love you and they will stay as your clients forever. Don’t worry about the other people. They will find someone else.
Where in your speech can you be nakedly authentic?
Your Personal Story.
In your speech, your personal story is a great place to be real. You won’t be real overnight, but every time you speak, you will become more real. I’ve been real for a long time, because I’ve been doing this a long time. I am real. Everything I learn about public speaking, I share with my readers — even the good, the bad, and the ugly. I will tell you how I fell on my butt and how I got up again. This is how to be vulnerable.
Speaking about your personal story is a perfect time to be real and vulnerable with your audience. Be real in terms of what it is you are talking about, be mindful and respectful to your audience, and be your real self.
If you’re speaking about life insurance, and yet in your childhood you were abused, don’t go there. That has nothing to do with insurance. If you’re speaking in front of a group women and your topic is about getting over adversity, then it might be relevant.
There are ways you can be real by sharing your emotions with people. How did you feel about getting into the insurance industry? What made you mad or happy about it? Did you first want to make money, but realized you could actually help people? Tell us. What is the story that will make a difference? What is the story with the real message? There was a reason, a need that you saw. Dig down deep and find out what it is. Being real is sharing that story.
Sometimes, being real might be telling people about your failures. A lot of speakers don’t want to share that. Why not? Sharing how you got into it and how you got out of it–outhouse to penthouse or mess to success–are powerful stories.
There was some reason that you got into the line of business that you are in. That’s what you have to get real about. What was it? How do you feel about it? Tell your audience the story and show them emotion. They want to see it.
Be real in the content, also known as the “meat” of your speech. This is where, in my case, I tend to teach. You can become real through sharing stories; stories about clients, about yourself, or things you went through. Tell them honestly and with integrity; and don’t leave out the juicy stuff. Audiences love to hear the juicy stuff. However, that doesn’t mean you have to be a blubbering fool on stage.
I saw a speaker once who got up on stage and couldn’t stop crying. His speech wasn’t even about tears. It was about leadership. He was so overwhelmed on stage that he couldn’t stop crying. They had to take him off the stage. You never have to share with people things that are deep and painful if you have no control over it, and certainly not unless it’s relevant.
This one speaker I knew always talked about being abused by her first husband. It never made sense because it never fit in her speech. She had been saying it so long that she was disengaged from her own story. Why tell it? It’s important to be relevant and show the audience how you feel about it; what you did before and how you got on this journey. Adding stories to your content is a great way to demonstrate your authentic self.
This is the part of the speech that we see on most stages where people are not real. They try too hard to sell and some try to swindle you out of your money. It always backfires. It’s very important that you continue throughout your presentation to be real. In your close, it’s time to be real.
I took some training from this one guy who was teaching closing techniques. I tried it out on my audience. I heard that three or four people felt “slimed” and left. That is the last thing I would ever want to do to my audience. I felt awful. I didn’t mean not to be real. I just tried a new sales technique thinking that I could get more people into my class and then I could help them. It just didn’t have the right effect. I never used that sales training technique again.
Tell your audience what your program or product is worth. Tell them what they’re going to get from it. Tell them whom it’s for and invite them to participate with you to experience transformation in their lives.
If they don’t want what you offer, that’s okay. It’s just another day. Don’t be attached to the outcome. If you want to really help someone, don’t be attached to the outcome of your sales. Just bless everyone in the room and when the time is right, people will engage and invest in whatever program you have that will help them. I’ve had people who have been with me for years and years and then finally joined my Speaker Training or my Protegé program.
Keep showing up. Be nakedly authentic. Be real.
And when the time comes, your audience will see you for who you really are. They will believe that you are like them and they will want to work with you.
Arvee Robinson, is The Master Speaker Trainer, International Speaker, and Author. She teaches business owners, service professionals, and entrepreneurs how to use public speaking as a marketing strategy so they can attract more clients, generate unlimited leads and grow their businesses, effortlessly. She teaches a proven speaker system for delivering persuasive presentations, and easy formulas for creating killer elevator speeches and magnetic self-introductions. Arvee has helped hundreds of individuals to win clients and close more sales every time they speak. She offers private coaching, workshops, and weekly teleclasses. Her programs will make you money for the rest of your life.
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