Expressing Your Personal Brand Through Public Speaking
During a consultation with a public speaking client, I sensed that he was hesitant about being coached. After some discussion, I found out that he was concerned that I would try to coach him to be someone other than who he is. You see, my client was laid back and a folksy. When I realized that, I joked, "Oh, no! We don't want you to live a lie on stage!" I assured my client that I would honor who he is, because his speaking should represent his personal brand.
Your personal brand has deep meaning. It's an expression of the value of your identity. So, your public speaking should compliment that. I found that out the hard way years ago. When I did one of my first Black Greek Success Program presentations, I wanted too badly to be profound. In a stately posture, parked behind a podium, I did my best chin-up, polished presentation, seasoning my speech with powerful quotes. It was received well, but in the audience was a frat brother who knew me quite well. He came to me afterward and simply said, "That wasn't you up there, Ed."
Expressing your personal brand through public speaking is all about alignment. Let's look at my laid back client. To honor his brand, we focused on articulation and subtle movement focused on his hands. To bring out his folksiness, we focused on his eye contact. I wanted the audience to feel as if they were sitting on a porch with him having a nice glass of lemonade, a cup of tea, or a smooth bourbon.
What about someone whose brand is pure energy? We'd have to focus on owning the stage with walking, wide open arms, and dynamic vocals. Maybe we would pick up the speaking pace a bit and bake in some well-placed "spontaneous" moments. Break out the soda, coffee or the tequila!
Expressing your personal brand through public speaking is all about alignment.
Let's say that you want to really relate to the audience as opposed to present yourself as an authority figure. This where I coach folks to use techniques such as informal body language (maybe hands in pockets) and inserting humor where it counts.
It all starts, however, with honesty. Be honest about your identity, your value, and what you want your audience to walk away with. Never play to what you think the audience wants, regardless of their demographics. At the end of the day, you can only be you. Even if it seems as if the audience can't relate to you or your delivery, they will respect you for being yourself.
Great public speaking doesn't just happen like a sneeze, however. To be certain that you are expressing your personal brand effectively, always remember to do one important thing—practice. It's up to you to own what you'll be doing so that your audience gets the authentic performance that they deserve while doing your personal brand justice.
Originally published on LinkedIn, Updated June 28, 2023