Learn to be authentic
- Be comfortable with who we are
Becoming a charismatic speaker requires total authenticity. This is true of all types of public speaking. Good stand-up comedy, for example, involves the comedian basing what they’re saying in truth – they ‘reveal’ rather than ‘invent’ – which creates a much more impactful impression with the audience.
It also helps us relax. When we’re allowed to be completely ourselves in a social situation, whether it be a house party, a work function, or a family gathering, our anxiety levels completely disappear. We’re much more relaxed and much more confident than if we were worried about saying the wrong thing and appearing the wrong way. The same is true of public speaking.
Authenticity also breeds confidence in those listening to us and helps us appear more charismatic. People trust us because they’re getting to know the REAL us, and will engage all the more strongly.
- Overcome our own defences
Appearing authentic in front of an audience means becoming comfortable with being vulnerable.
The main obstacle to being authentic is putting our guard up. We feel that we’ll be judged if we show too much of our real selves, or that people will reject us.
In fact, the opposite is true. When we’re authentic people sit up and take notice. They lean in to hear more from us and are more willing to engage.
So we must learn to drop our defensive shields. People notice inauthenticity immediately. If our face is saying one thing but our brain is saying another then people will realise that something isn’t quite right. Don’t be inauthentic to try to please others. Remember; being authentic gives us confidence and draws others to us.
- Discover our genuine self
We’re only able to attain personal charisma by feeling truly worthy. A sense of personal unworthiness impedes this connection and means we feel ‘exposed’.
We appear authentic by revealing what’s already inside us – our genuine passions, beliefs and values. It’s impossible to be truly authentic when we’re talking about something we don’t really care about. Knowing about what we’re talking about and having a passion for it helps give us the ease and confidence to appear authentic with an audience.
In order to discover our genuine self we need to better understand and appreciate our own values and beliefs:
a) When we find ourselves vulnerable we get overly obsessed with being perfect, which holds us back. Instead we need to have an honest conversation with ourselves and admit that we’re not perfect and be happy with that fact.
We need to recognise that we lie and put out fake versions of ourselves in certain situations. There’s no judgement involved in this, but it’s important to identify when we do this. We need to become aware of what goes through our head when we act fraudulently and when we act genuinely.
Exercise – Try and think about a time that you weren’t yourself and a time that you were honest. What do you feel in each situation? How were they different?
b) We then need to recognise our strengths and appreciate what we contribute the most. This will boost our sense of self-worth and allow us to embrace being vulnerable. Charismatic individuals view vulnerability as neither painful or comfortable, but simply necessary.
Exercise – Go through and make a list of all the positive ways that you feel you impact on the world. This can be in the workplace, family or social life. Can we recognise moments where we’ve brought out authenticity in others?
By appreciating where we’ve helped others this helps us reinforce our own sense of value.
- Review our strengths and learn to appreciate them
Emphasise with ourselves than we have value and that we’re bringing this value to our public speaking. Having this outlook gives us the mental fortitude against worrying about how we appear to an audience, and makes us more charismatic and present.
Playing to our strengths means that we focus on what we do know rather than what we don’t. We can accept that it’s absolutely fine not to be perfect.
By removing defensiveness we decrease our stress levels and become more relaxed. If we’re protecting ourselves against possible criticism or failure then we can’t be present and we’ll be disengaged from the moment.
By harnessing authenticity and vulnerability we develop the courage to be flawed, to take risks and to be compassionate toward ourselves and others. We therefore become more charismatic.
Learn more about expressing yourself genuinely and tell your own story with our article on impactful storytelling.