“It’s not what you say but how you say it.” This may be a very cliché and almost trivial quote but when deconstructed from the right perspective it provides, in my opinion, the path to authentic speaking. There are hundreds of different techniques for public speaking with all kinds of tips and tricks for establishing rapport with an audience, sustaining attention and coming up with witty and innovative jokes. Yet time has shown us that the most powerful and endearing speakers are the ones who speak from their heart. Technique can take you as far as motivating and inspiring people, but to transform an audience through a speech demands authenticity – an exorbitant diligence towards being your genuine self, embracing your vulnerabilities and speaking your truth.
But how can you achieve and communicate that cordial sense of authenticity in a society defined by never-ending busyness and an information overload? In our fast-paced and increasingly globalized world we are constantly catapulted with an ever-expanding flow of information, books, seminars and processes all promising to equip us with the perfect formula for delivering a perfect speech. Experience has shown me that however much I practice my theatricality, pose and hand gestures, and no matter how many witty jokes and inspiring anecdotes I can come up with, my most successful speeches are always the ones that I take a step back and let my heart do the talking.
It is incredible the degree to which a speech is transformed when you are genuinely feeling what you are talking about, and when you aren’t trying to be someone else or act in any particular way, but instead stand emotionally naked in front of an audience. I’ve personally found out that internalizing, not memorizing a speech is sometimes the best approach to take, for it provides you with the leeway to combine both technique and authenticity. Although speaking from the heart sounds all nice and simple in theory, we can’t ignore the fact that public speaking is the most common fear, and can easily block your ability to express from a heart-driven perspective. How then can you prepare yourself for it? What practical processes can you use before you get on stage to ease the stress and unbind your heart?
- Hit your knees and pray: No matter your religious beliefs, praying is a powerful way of aligning yourself to your highest potential. The act of getting on your knees and surrendering your speech and your entire being to the power of love acts in a powerful way to relieve your fear, and lets you know that you are not alone. Accompanied with an affirmation like “Help me be the presence of love,” praying attunes you to the love that already lies within you and transforms you into an instrument for channeling that love through your speech.
- Don’t hesitate, meditate: Meditation is the simple act of quieting your mind from all thought. An emotion cannot exist without a thought; therefore the fear of public speaking is inevitably backed up by thoughts and beliefs of inadequacy. Taking 15 minutes before your speech to sit, breathe, close your eyes and clear your mind from mental clutter, gives your body the ability to return back to its original pure-positive, all loving and totally empowered nature. This blissful set-point helps you establish a more clear and unwavering connection with your natural sense of inspiration, which will ensure that you bring the whole of You to your speech.
- Find the feeling-place: How does your speech feel like? What kind of feeling would you like to communicate to your audience? Instead of spending days memorizing the anecdotes and getting the intonation right, try to identify the emotional signature of your message. It is no secret that we are primarily emotional beings, whereas language is only a human construction, a means of conveying our feelings. Therefore, communication takes place on an emotional basis first before our mind can process the verbal information. Having identified your speech’s feeling-place, take some time to ponder on it and embody its vibration. Practicing that emotion for no longer than 5 minutes will produce powerful emotional momentum that will drive you into delivering an affective and impactful speech.
Incorporating these simple processes to your speech preparation will recalibrate you into a state of infinite love and heart-felt empowerment, qualities that define who you really are. From this standpoint you can then integrate all the incredible public speaking techniques out there and nurture a more authentic speaking style.