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[Speaking-Out-Loud April 2016] Being yourself - no strings attached
April 15, 2016

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Being yourself - no strings attached

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Being yourself - no strings attached

There's something strange that happens to many people the moment they stand up to speak in front of an audience.

Quick as a flash - kapow, kazazz - a switch is flicked and there's somebody else on stage.

That someone has a weird voice - strained and artificial. The language they're using isn't their own. It sounds alien coming out of their mouths, and the face? It's stiff.

We're suddenly watching and listening to a life-sized puppet version of the real person.

Have you had this experience? Perhaps you've observed it in yourself. It's odd, surreal, and ultimately unreal. Because it's not you.

When you speak in front of others you don't have to be someone else.

You don't have to assume a persona or wear a mask.

Your voice doesn't have to be unnaturally "posh" and your facial expression and movement constrained.

You just have to be you - your best self. That's the naturally easy self - the state in which you feel good about being who you are - you. It's you accepting and owning your strengths as well as your challenges and allowing others to see them.

Some people call this being "naked" on stage. I call it being real, being natural. The word "naked" pulls up alarming images for me! I'm not so sure I want that degree of exposure and quite frankly neither would my audience! But natural, at ease, being myself - yes. That's good.

So how do we stop this puppet person taking over and allow our best self to stand in front of others?

Being natural on stage takes courage and practice.

To achieve that state of ease try:

  • taking "yourself" out the equation.
    It's not about YOU. It's about the message - your speech. If you've aligned your speech purpose and content with the audience's needs, you're giving them something of value - something they want. Their primary focus isn't on your tie, the color of your hair, whether you are short, tall, female, male, have a lisp, or anything else. It's on what you are delivering.
  • talking as you would to a friend.
    This will give you natural language and phrasing. You'll stop trying to be someone else and sound more like yourself - authentic, real.

  • giving up trying to please everybody.
    You won't! It's unrealistic and very, very stressful to go around attempting to meet everyone's expectations of what a perfect presentation should be.
    Some want formality. Some want humor. Some want more stories and others want none. Accept you are you.
    Some people will like/love what you do. Others won't and still more will be indifferent. That's life!

  • giving up trying to control people or things you can't.
    If you've done your preparation, covering all the aspects you reasonably can - room set-up, audio-visual material, speech ..., the rest is not yours to worry about. You can not control someone who suddenly has a sneezing fit in the front row, the person called away urgently, the howl of the fire alarm etc, etc. What you can work on though is developing the flexibility to take stuff like that in your stride!

  • revealing yourself
    - allowing your humor, your humility to shine through in personal stories or comments pertinent to your speech.

The truth is ...

It's more than OK to be you. You are not an impostor. Strive to be the best of you and the more you can achieve that, the easier it will be to deliver your message effectively.


Work your quirk - how personality pays in public speaking - Sarah Lloyd-Hughes from on the value of being yourself.

The key to authentic public speaking - Michelle Mazur on the power of being unapologetically yourself, and other things.

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What's new

3 public speaking games banner

Print and play public speaking game packages

Do you teach public speaking?

Here's 3 tried and tested public speaking games to boost your student's competence and confidence while having a whole lot of fun.

They're extracted from my ebook Public Speaking Games - from fear to fun in 28 ways and perfect if you'd like to experiment with one activity before purchasing 28!

The games come with full instructions and all the resources needed to play them. Open the preview pdfs to find out more about each of them.

1. Focus on presentation skills with Permission to present badly

2. Develop fluency and the confidence to stand in front of others with One minute speeches

3. And banish the mumbles with Tangling tongue twisters.

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And now some inspiration

There's just one link this time rather than three but this is the mother-lode of links! presents Public Speaking - the top online resources; 102 links helpfully split into four categories.

  1. Public & Professional Speaking
  2. Presentation Blogs & Tools
  3. Speech writing
  4. General Communication & Debate
Bookmark it! This is a superb compilation featuring many sites I already know and refer to, in addition to many more I look forward to exploring.

Comment, share & connect

If you've got comments, feedback or questions you're most welcome to contact me through my about me page.

If you liked this issue of Speaking-Out-Loud, please feel free to send it on to any friends or family. The site url to forward so they can subscribe is Speaking-Out-Loud.

And I'd love to see you on's face book page too.

Until next time,
Happy speaking,


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