When we see a great public speaker we often say to ourselves, “That was fabulous; I wish I could be like that” and of course it is natural to want to emulate those that excel.
We learn by watching the skills of proficient speakers; noting what works, and also what doesn’t! And if it is effective, we try to incorporate the techniques of good speakers into our own speeches and presentations.
But … and it is a very big ‘but’ – we must do that in our own unique manner. We cannot be another ‘them’; we must strive to be a better ‘us’.
The temptation is great for us to note the gestures, the movement, the word pictures and the style of speaking and by trying to imitate them to achieve similar success; but by doing so we loose much of what makes us unique.
I have always thought that singers or actors that have been styled “another Hepburn” or “the second Elvis” must be furious to think that the special gifts that made them the first John or Mary were being buried under the comparisons,
So what we need to do in our public speaking is to study the techniques that work and incorporate them into our speeches using the strengths that we have, and in our own special way.
If we like the way a speaker uses pauses to build anticipation, we can certainly use the technique ourselves. Pausing is a great way to add a sense of excitement to any presentation; or to help build a climax. So by incorporating the technique we can create the same effect; and if we do so in our own natural style, we make it our own special way of pausing.
But if we notice a gesture that we think is effective and we try to imitate it, we become unnatural and our gesture looks awkward and contrived. But if we analyse why the gesture was effective, what it achieved for the speaker, we can incorporate the intention possible by a different action.
And as very few of us can actually create effective accents; we should stick to our natural way of speaking. While we can always improve it by paying attention to diction, articulation and enunciation; natural is still always best. No fake English or American accents please, a clearly spoken natural Australian one will do fine thank you – for Australians.
It has always been my philosophy to work to my strengths and improve my weaknesses – and I am still working on it.
I like watching the speakers at our workshops, and studying their strengths and seeing how each one is unique. It is our speciality to work with them to bring out those characteristics that differentiate them from others.
So it is a mistake for us to try and incorporate the style of other speakers; we need to define our special quality and use that as a base to build our speaking style that is Natural to us. And as we do, we become comfortable with who we are as speakers.
Such recognition is then easy to incorporate into our stage presence, and our gestures become natural, arising out of who we are as well as what we say. So by staying true to our natural self, we build on our strengths, work to improve those areas of weaknesses and gradually we create a special and natural style that defines us as a speaker.
And we then get recognised by that style, and we can truly say that being natural is the foundation of credibility and acceptance.
It’s really only natural.
Michele @ Trischel