Be yourself – how NOT to crush your originality!

beyourselfBe yourself – everyone else is taken!

This is the second of what will be a series of blogs following my journey towards the TEDx stage in November this year delivering my first TED talk.

I was reminded of the quote ascribed to Oscar Wilde when recently the speakers at the TEDx event met informally for a drink. It was the first time we had met as a team and a chance to hear what topics all of us were going to be talking about from the stage.

Naturally the conversation turned to TED talks we had heard and loved. Ken Robinson, Amy Cuddy and Jamie Oliver were a few of the names mentioned. The chat almost became a bit of a TED love fest as we gushed and exclaimed and declared our delight in format and analysed what worked well, what were the key components of a good TED talk, what elements were essential. At least, most of us did this. But not all.

One lone voice suggested calmly but confidently that there might be a danger in trying to analyse previous talks to help us design ours. Sometimes despite the planning and crafting, he argued, the talks worked. That the impact they had was not was what originally expected ( but delightful anyway). That if we focused on what others did successfully then we miss out on delivering something uniquely ours..

Well, that made me think!

You see, as a speaker trainer I firmly believe it is about a speaker getting real understanding and clarity around their message and then developing a strong personal unique voice in which to deliver that voice. Understanding and modelling how other successful speakers have done that is helpful in that it shortcuts the learning route. It opens our minds to possibilities and keeps stretching our skill set. It helps us see how high the bar can get and shows us what is possible.

But yes, to copy blindly or constrain ourselves by a narrow set of rules or traditions in the longer term can suppress our own natural speaker abilities. To pretend to be someone else isn’t going to cut it. If our aim is to be authentic, natural and allow our true voice to be heard, then we need to learn, adopt, adapt and discover our own speaker’s voice. That’s what I find thrilling about my job by the way! 

So in the end I conclude that we need to do both. Equip ourselves with the skills and techniques and approaches that make us good speakers. And to do that listening and watching great speakers can be invaluable. And then using those skills to deliver a message that is meaningful to us in a way that both allows our authentic and personal voice to be heard and have an impact on our listeners.

I’m certainly mindful that even as I focus in the next few months on getting both the message and content right, my peculiar and unique way of delivering has to come through loud and clear.  Otherwise it won’t be me up on that stage…and I would be doing myself and the audience a huge disservice.

What would be your favourite TED talk by the way? As I pull my talk together in the next few months, what would you recommend I listen to and watch? All suggestions gratefully received and I may even review them in this blog later.

And of course if you are working on a keynote presentation and would like some support and feedback, then give me a call on 07946604859

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