Key Piece of Speaking Advice: Be Yourself but Elevated

I had a photo shoot yesterday – look out for new images soon – and one part of the day’s events was running a small group Q&A session while I was snapped “in action”.

One client in the group asked me: “Sarah, if there’s one piece of advice you’d give to people wanting to improve their speaking skills, what would it be?”

My answer: “Be yourself, but elevated.”

“Being ourselves” is an ideal foundation – but is often simply not enough when we’re speaking in front of a group. We need to elevate our natural state. Particularly when we’re presenting virtually, where our persona gets flattened and subdued.

For most of my clients this means they need to go bigger – but not for everyone. It’s about turning the dial up or down.

Four examples where ‘being yourself’ can leave you – and your audience – lacking:

  1. You don’t have enough energy to hold the space for yourself.
  2. You can’t hold the audiences varied energies. Remember that the audience takes their cue from you – you have to be leader and guide.
  3. You don’t project well enough vocally.
  4. Leading from the two above – your natural gesturing style may not be enough to turn you into your own “visual aid”. What I mean by this: when we demonstrate ideas and processes through our gestures, we enhance and layer the experience for our audience.

So we want to be ourselves, but elevated.

And any of these four elements can be overdone or distorted. If you have huge energy, a loud booming voice or are what I call a ‘flailer’ with your gestures, then elevated for you means “tone it down a bit!”
The goal is to enhance your style: turn the dial up or down depending on your personality and what happens in your system when you speak.
Wishing you great speaking experiences!

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