Authenticity is crucial in public speaking. For your audience to believe you, you must believe you. Whether you are selling an idea, a vision or a product, if you do not believe in your message your audience won’t either. Faking authenticity is possible but not desirable. Faking authenticity means you are acting, not speaking. And it takes a great actor to do that convincing. For most of us non-actors real authenticity is crucial to get the message through. And if you dare to show real authenticity it can be one of the greatest connectors in your toolbox.
Another good tool is humility. A humble attitude makes you likable for your audience. Although you won (and deserved) the oscar, you thank others. Although you were the one that executed the idea fantastically, you focus on the idea and although you were invited to speak you put the spotlight on something or someone else.
So do authenticity and humbleness mean that you should speak ‘unprepared and from the heart?’ No! All the great speeches and presentations in history were prepared and rehearsed before they were executed. It sounds like a contradiction but only if you rehearse enough will you be able to do justice to your authenticity. You must mean the words and know them well enough so you can steer them. Otherwise, especially when dealing with an emotional topic. the words might start to steer you.
Check out this great speech by actress Ellen Page. Her Kairos is impeccable (delivering the speech at Valentine’s Day), her Ethos is great (being one of the top grossing actresses at the moment and role model) and her Pathos is overwhelming (giving her own coming out story). See how she connects with her audience through real authenticity and humbleness in this beautiful Valentine’s Day speech.