A is for Authentic

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Sections of this topic

    Starting this week, let’s explore the qualities of great presenters, starting with A and going all the way to Z. In each post I will list one or several attributes of great presenters and communicators, and suggest some ways you can build that characteristic in your own speaking.

    If you want to play along, suggest your own great words starting with the letter for that week. Better yet, help me out by suggesting a word for the next letter of the alphabet! And let me know how you are using these ideas to build your own habits and characteristics for great speaking.

    A is for:

    Authentic. Great presenters are real, genuine. They don’t put on an act when they speak. They are with the audience, not performing or speaking at the audience. They are transparent, honest. They are direct, truthful, and kind. They make mistakes and are human. What you see is what you get.

    Agile. Great presenters are nimble, quick on their feet. The only way to get that is to know your content backward and forward. To be in the present moment. To prepare for contingencies. And to trust yourself and the audience. To recognize that being with your audience imperfectly is always better than a word-perfect, canned speech.

    Adaptable. Great presenters know when to stick to their guns and when to adapt. When you face an audience, you have already prepared your content based on what you want to say and what you think they want to hear. But things change. Your audience may have a different agenda than you. If you stick to your script, you may have a very unhappy experience. Perhaps you can adjust to meet their needs while still getting your point across. A win-win!

    Attractive. That is, you attract and hold the attention of the audience by speaking their language, by connecting with them at a personal level. That you are willing to use charm and humor as well as fact and detail to win them over. It also means you believe in what you are saying, and that belief and passion can be very attractive to your listeners.

    Your turn: How have you been able to live out these qualities? What other words starting with the letter “a” come to mind when you think of great presenters? What are some words starting with “b” that I can write about in the next installment?