When someone bounds on stage and tells a joke with confidence, do you wish that was you? Or do you cringe inside at the unapologetic showing off?
Each of us has a distinct speaking style but interestingly enough, it doesn’t always reflect our true personality. Because of the fear of failure that often comes with public speaking, many of us create a stage persona which hides rather than reveals our true personalities.
And we know that more than anything today, our audiences want authenticity in order to be able to connect. First we need to understand our own style, which will be closely linked with our behavioural preference. What’s yours? Apple, Mango, Lime or Banana?
Those with Apple preferences will be confident, business like speakers, backing up their ideas with stats and reason.
Mangoes are likely to be bold and loud, with plenty of humour and stories (about themselves). They’re probably winging it a lot of the time as they just didn’t put the time in to prepare.
Limes are the opposite, having prepared with great dedication they will deliver an abundance of well researched detail but may seem nervous or lacking confidence because of their dislike of being in the public eye.
Bananas will start by apologising that they weren’t as good as the last speaker, but win over the audience with a friendly, easy going manner, even if they go over time and don’t have quite as much detail as they should.
Understanding your strengths and challenges as a person will help you transfer the best of you to your stage persona. Take your strengths and present with authenticity. But same same is boring. If you present at the same energy level for 40 minutes, people lose interest. To keep audiences engaged we need variety.
So I’m suggesting you reveal a part of yourself you usually keep hidden and tucked away. This will surprise and interest the audience and create contrast, the key to compelling presentations.
Apples - try smiling more and showing your human side (we know it’s there). Perhaps share a personal story as a change of pace from business like stats and introduce a more reflective style.
Mangoes – change the pace from being funny guy/light entertainment and switch to a slower more serious tone. You’ll find it will bring the audience sharply to focus.
Limes - Balance your calm, consistent style with a few spurts of energy to show your enthusiasm for the subject. It doesn’t need to be huge, just you, amplified a little.
Bananas – Create some symmetry with that ready to please the audience style by using some in your face, here’s a few hard truths tactics. Great speakers are not fence sitters seeking consensus.
Whatever your speaking style, it is possible to be an engaging, interesting public speaker. If you want to be promoted, noticed or get buy in to your vision, you have no choice but to be one.
Lynne Schinella is a conference speaker, speaker coach, and author of Bite Me! and other do's and don'ts of dealing with our differences.
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