Authentic presenting from Jack Canfield to Sir Ken Robinson

Rule No. 1 when presenting is to be your authentic self.

Audience members know the genuine article when they see it and hear it. They know when a public speaker is feigning enthusiasm, passion or any other emotion.

Think about it. You know how easily inauthentic and authentic behavior is recognized. We’ve all watched internet video sales pitches and TV infomercials with presenters who use over-the-top displays of exuberance as their primary sales tool.

We know this for sure: They are not behaving normally. Nobody is that jacked up in normal conversation, so why take such affected behavior to the stage or broadcast studio? People just don’t respond well to hype. These pitchmen will sell a lot more product by tamping down the volume and speaking in a normal tone and tempo.

Compare that type of presentation style with those of two speakers who are plainly authentic in their approach – Jack Canfield and Sir Ken Robinson.

Let’s start with Mr. Canfield, a widely sought after public speaker and author of books such as Chicken Soup for the Soul and The Power of Focus. There is a three minute self-introduction video on his website that is an authentic counterpoint to the inauthentic self-introduction videos that are legion on the internet. Check out Canfield’s brief video now by clicking here.

As you observed, Canfield’s presentation is intensely personal, including painful childhood memories. He talks about helping people discover who they are and fully expressing that in their lives. Though he speaks calmly and evenly, there are vocal inflections that punctuate his statements. His passion and emotional investment in the subject matter comes across.

Some of what he says could be the words of a braggart if not for his unassuming delivery.

I have the advantage of some direct knowledge of Jack Canfield. While publisher of the Portland Business Journal I had the honor of introducing him to speak at a business event. We visited for several minutes before his speech got underway. His conversations with me and others seated at the table were as earnest as they get. Canfield is a genuine guy. For all his success he was utterly without pretense.

His ensuing speech was a continuation of the conversation he was making at the table. In other words, Jack Canfield was the same man in front of the full audience that he was one-on-one with me, and chatting with a handful a people lunching at the table.

I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Sir Ken Robinson except through videos of his stage appearances. Robinson has an international reputation as a thought leader in education, creativity and innovation. He is also the author of Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative.

His presentation about how schools kill creativity (like all his presentations) is an excellent example of a public speaker who is the same person on stage as having a one-on-one conversation in a building corridor.

Though the video is 19 minutes in length you will get the idea from just five minutes of viewing. Click here to take a look.

Obviously, Robinson delivers a good deal of comedic as well as trenchant content. More to the point is his casual stance and conversational delivery. Could the man be any more relaxed? Could he look any more natural?

When do we feel that way? When we’re just being ourselves and conversing with others.

We don’t need to take on a different persona when we step in front of an audience. That does more harm than good. It separates us from our emotional core and makes it more difficult for people to connect with the things we are saying.

So why do so many of us fall into inauthentic behavior while presenting? Next week we’ll explore that issue when we turn our sights to the two biggest impediments to being an authentic public speaker.

Mike Consol teaches public speaking, PowerPoint presentation skills and business writing to companies and business professionals in the Oakland-San Francisco-San Jose Bay Area. Contact him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 925-449-1040.

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