When I coach people around public speaking and other communication challenges, they often start out asking me how I might say something if I were in their situation. And while I might have a clear idea of what I would say, I always encourage people to figure out a way to say it that that sounds like them—not like me. The most effective way to communicate and connect with others is by sounding like your authentic self.
I’m not saying anything revolutionary here. Most people would agree at face value with this statement: You’re most effective when you come off as authentic. And yet, many people want to know the tips and tricks that’ll help them sound like someone else whose style they admire. They might view a TED talk and think to themselves: “Gee, if only I could sound that fluid! They make it look effortless. How do they do it? They must know something I don’t.”
The answer to the question of how people get to sound fluid, confident, and authentic varies by the individual. But I can guarantee you that they’re NOT thinking that they need to sound like anyone else. They’ve found their own voice probably not by reading a ton of books on “sounding authentic” and “speaking fluidly.” They’ve likely just done it enough times that their authentic voice emerged as a natural thing.
We’re sometimes so afraid to “do it wrong” or “say the wrong thing” that we inhibit ourselves from simply trying whatever we’re trying to get better at. If we could just tell ourselves that it’s OK to flounder around a little bit at first, we’d free ourselves up to improve by repetition.
When it comes to becoming an effective and authentic communicator—whether in a public speaking setting, in your interpersonal relationships, or in a conflict situation—studying how others do it has its use. And thinking about what what you want to say and how you want to say it also has its use. But sooner or later you need to try out your plan and see how it feels for you. It’s the best way for your own, authentic voice to emerge. And when it does, it’ll be the strongest, most confident, most effective voice you can use.
Guillermo Villar is principal coach with Cambio Coaching. He helps high-achieving individuals and teams communicate with intention to get the business results they want. If you’re interested in working with Guillermo, sign up for a free meeting to explore how he can help.