The original line, to be found in scripture, is ‘The love of money is the root of all evil.’ Now that’s not quite the same thing, is it?
In the world of public speaking and presenting, there’s another little idiom that once expressed a very useful idea, but has been corrupted by overuse to become something rather destructive.The phrase is flippantly tossed as a morsel of comfort to anyone who is about to deliver an important presentation and who expresses nerves or apprehension.And it is this: “Just be yourself.”
At face value, this is excellent advice.You should come across as warm, real and authentic. You should put a great deal of effort into portraying a genuine, grounded human being and not some über presenter, a la the ‘Yes!’ speakers of yester year.
However, here’s the danger. The sentiment ‘just be yourself,’ is often taken to mean, ‘just get up there and wing it. ’Which is not the same thing at all.
Your credibility is enhanced by being natural and authentic. It is destroyed by being unprepared.
In reality, it takes a boat load of hards log to just be yourself effectively, and you should never just wing it. So how do you marry these two ideas: preparing well, but coming across naturally?
Preparing well means:
- Writing your thoughts out (you may choose to do this line by line, or in a mind-map diagram form)
- Editing out anything unnecessary to your main point
- Doing a number of dry runs, so that you become comfortable with both the content and the links between the sections
- Preparing all the logistics (room, laptop, projector, slides, etc) well in advance.
Being natural means:
- Not changing your voice-tone. Many amateur presenters unconsciously put on a dramatic voice that they would never use in their day-to-day lives.
- Not trying to come across as too ‘strong.’ Be friendly and sincere.
- Using a stop-start rhythm, rather than trying to deliver a ballet. A ballet performance flows from one end to the other regardless of audience reaction. Good presenting is different. You should deliver a line and allow the audience a moment to ‘digest’ it. Then you discuss something humorous and allow the audience to react. Such a stop-start rhythm ensures that your presentation looks real and spontaneous – like a two way chat – and not like a canned rehearsal.
So no, money is not the root of all evil. It’s the love that ‘s the problem. And yes, you should be yourself. But never forget that it takes a great deal of practice and concentration to be the best version of yourself that you have to offer.