New Rules for Authentic Public Speaking

It’s time we made new rules for public speaking, specifically new rules for authentic public speaking. Today I’m rewriting the old rules for public speaking.  You know, those old rules that don’t really help speakers be authentic or even be comfortable.  Rules like don’t put your hands in your pockets, don’t tell them you are nervous or don’t say “uhs”.

Let’s write new rules that help us feel good and be authentic with listeners, rather than just trying to make us look perfect as presenters.  Let’s write rules that allow us permission to be who we really are in front of others.

My Rules for Authentic Public Speaking

I’ll share my rules for authentic public speaking that have helped me be successful at speaking. I have also used these rules to support thousands of clients over the three decades I’ve been coaching public speakers.

Rule 1:  Do give yourself permission to be nervous.  Accept your nerves and yourself.  Your nerves are a sign that you are sensitive and that you have something important to say.  Your nerves will give you energy to speak with passion if you accept them.

Rule 2:  Do share you’re nervous if you feel it.  Sharing your nerves will help you relax and be real with listeners.  It will also make you authentic with them and help you feel safe to connect.

Rule 3:  Do make genuine connection with listeners by using a receptive eye contact.  Use your eyes to receive the flow of attention from listeners. Really see them and let them really see you back. Using a receptive eye contact will create a sense of “being with” your audience.

Rule 4:  Do hold their attention by paying attention to people in the audience.  Pay attention to their reactions so you can respond authentically.

Rule 5:  Do give your audience members permission to be who they are.  Don’t expect them to be perfectly engaged every second of your talk. They are human too!

Rule 6:  Do give yourself permission to be imperfect.  Allow yourself the freedom to make mistakes.  Allow yourself to trip over your words or to lose your train of thought.  Just be real.  When you don’t have to be perfect, you will be good.

Rule 7:  Do let yourself take time to think and to speak.  Don’t rush your speech. Take time to breathe.  Take the time you need to say what you have to say.

Rule 8:  Do assume your audience likes you.  Don’t project judgement onto your audience members.  Don’t assume they are judging you.  Don’t judge them.

Rule 9:  Do decide to like them and maybe even love them.  Don’t worry they won’t like you.  Just choose to care for them.

Rule 10:  Do give your all to them.  Offer yourself and your ideas like a basket of flowers.  Let them take it or leave it.

How to Use My Rules for Authentic Public Speaking

My rules may seem radical to you. If so, don’t try them all at the same time. Try one or two the next time you have to speak in a meeting, presentation or interview. See what happens when you use one. You’ll likely notice that any one of them will free you up to be more of who you really are. When you feel more like yourself, you’ll feel better and speak with more flow.

Remember, if you want to speak authentically, you will need to be authentic with your listeners.  You may need to write some new rules for authentic public speaking for yourself. Feel free to use mine.  They will help free you to be real with audiences.  If I can help you prepare to speak in groups, meetings, presentation or interviews, please reach me at 281-293-7070.


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