I suggested to Michaela that when she was delivering the most important parts of her presentation, she stand square to the audience.
She pushed back on my suggestion, claiming that it wouldn’t be authentic.
What she really meant is that it didn’t feel natural to her because she had never done it before.
I agree with the concept of being authentic when you’re public speaking.
The trap is that “authenticity” is often used as an excuse for staying in your Comfort Zone.
Your Comfort Zone feels good. Your Comfort Zone feels natural and familiar. It’s easy to confuse being in your Comfort Zone with being authentic precisely because it feels natural and familiar.
But your Comfort Zone and your Authentic Zone are not the same. Your Authentic Zone is much larger. Your Authentic Zone straddles both your Comfort Zone and your Courage Zone.
What is authenticity?
Abraham Maslow developed the idea that we have an inner drive to fulfill our potential – to become self-actualized.
Both the part of your potential that you have fulfilled and that which you have not yet fulfilled are part of the authentic you.
Authenticity is the essence of you.
There are parts of the authentic you that you have never expressed to the world.
There are parts of the authentic you that you don’t yet know even exist.
These parts of the authentic you are waiting for you to discover and explore, and then express to the world. This process will most likely involve risk and discomfort. You will be in your Courage Zone.
How to develop your authentic style as a speaker
Each time you speak, push the envelope of your Comfort Zone.
Experiment with different styles.
Watch other speakers and note what works for you as an audience member.
Be playful with what you choose to express to your audience.
Don’t use authenticity as an excuse to stay in your Comfort Zone. You will be robbing both yourself and your audience.