Public Speaking – Authenticity vs Performing

This is the last in the series in my deep dive into public speaking. Ok, maybe it’s not soooo deep. After all, people have written entire books, dedicated podcasts, tv shows, etc on the topic of speaking in front of folks. In the second post, I mentioned the mantra I live by for public speaking, along with my gameplan and maybe the most importantly the epiphany that led me to developing my strategy and motto.

Full disclosure, I don’t believe I’ve completely conquered my fear of giving a speech or speaking in front of a group but I am on a journey to become better.
So here is a friendly of what my motto entails:
1. Being able to communicate clearly while being authentically
2. Connecting with my audience
3. Trying not to impress anyone AKA performing

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve done a lot to improve my public speaking. One of the best things about aging is knowing what works for you and what you truly want without feeling
guilty or obligated to do something because you should. This is not to say, once you know this truth, there isn’t some backsliding. It’s just that you have learned usually through experience, that the moment will pass and there will be another moment to do something different. My public speaking motto is a reflection of me as a person. To me, that is key. Of course, a lot of folks don’t need to analyze themselves as a person to figure out how be a better public speaker. I am not one of those people. Not too long ago, there was a woman in one of my tech groups trying to help folks who were uneasy about public speaking. I really thought about going. Afterall, it was FREE! One of my fav words 😉 . However, she is not my cup of tea. And I don’t think that makes her a bad person. She is very brash but with a heart of gold. I know this because of what she decided to take on, improving inclusion in the tech world. For that, I definitely respect her for it but I know that I need a person who is fully willing to be sensitive to my needs or anyone else’s needs. And all my interactions with her have led me to believe otherwise. I don’t need tough love when it comes to become a better speaker. Honestly, I did really consider it as a way to prove to myself I could handle anyone or anything. Then after hearing her speak at another event, I realized this most likely would result in further frustration. So I scratched her of the list. Yes, I have a list.
After trying Toastmaster’s meetings on more than one occasion and along with other possibilities, I realized I needed a safe place with a loose structure which brings me to my experience with Speaking Circles.

It’s been a while since I went to a Speaking Circles “meeting”. Speaking Circles is an alternative to Toastmasters. There a number of differences between the methodologies and organizations but I believe the most stark difference in that Toastmasters focuses on public speaking AND leadership. This guides their approach in how chapters conduct meetings. There are a LOT of rules and don’t get me wrong from my experience and learning about Toastmasters they each tailor the structure it to fit the individual needs of the chapter. However, I know that this isn’t the style of communication I’m interested in. Speaking Circles focuses on giving you room to make mistakes, saw ums, even practice with the dreaded silence or when you forget your train of thought. Of course, it can be argued that other methods like Toastmasters do as well but for me having someone count your umms and your use of fancy vocabulary isn’t what moves or sways your audience. Authenticity is key. I was reluctant to use that word because it has been hijacked by everyone. However, it describes perfectly what’s important in connecting with an audience.

So I’ve come to the conclusion that I definitely don’t want to perform, I want to connect. I need to have opportunities to practice that in motion. Maybe the next series will focus more of the experience of actually speaking in public vs just diagnosing the problem.

Until then….

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