I once had a new speech coaching client say to me: “Delivering a natural speech is one of the most unnatural things in the world!” Unfortunately, she thought that in order to appear natural in front of an audience, she had to control everything—especially how she spoke and her physical actions on stage.
An entirely understandable, and common, perspective. But, also entirely wrong. I often share with my speech coaching clients this very insightful quote by John Ruskin, the 19th Century British art critic:
“In all things that live there are certain irregularities and deficiencies which are not only signs of life, but sources of beauty. To banish imperfection is to destroy expression, to check exertion, to paralyze vitality.”
In my speech coach and consultant role, my job is to help you perform at your best in the most natural way possible. And, after years of working with hundreds of speakers, I can safely say that the least effective way to achieve this is by trying to choreograph every accent and action of your performance.
Speech Coaching Insights
Successful speeches and presentations require connection as much as content. And, real human-to-human connection can only happen if you are being yourself. This means that the most effective approach is to begin every speech and presentation with your natural delivery and then adjust only as needed.
This might sound counterintuitive, but as a speaker, it’s best to not be thinking a lot when you’re on stage; instead, be present, stay in the moment and focus on connecting with your audience. Take an “inside-out” perspective:
- Prepare – Know your conclusions and supporting messages, as well as your audience’s needs and expectations.
- Believe – In your purpose and vision, in your audience and in yourself.
- Share – Your beliefs, true feelings and appreciation for the audience’s time and attention.
My job as speech coach is to help you build upon your own natural strengths and style. By taking small steps and practicing what you’ve learned via the speech consulting process, you will soon realize that your newfound skills have become second nature—leading to more effective and satisfying speeches and presentations.
What’s the best way for you to “be yourself” when you speak publicly?