Last night, I gave a presentation to my friend’s class at a community college. They were learning Public Speaking, and my talk was about the value of improving one’s speaking skills. One of the things that came out during my talk surprised me and it is relevant not only to giving a good speech, but having good relationships too.
Several people asked what to do when you’re nervous, or forget your lines. And my answer was, tell the truth. Two things happen when we’re nervous. First, we have the feeling, and then we spend a bunch of energy trying to suppress or hide the feeling. This actually makes you more anxious, takes you out of flow. But if you are honest, name what’s going on with you; your audience gets the chance to connect with you as a person, you get to relax and stop covering up, and suddenly, you remember your words.
People “buy” from you, whether what you are selling is a product, or your information, because they like you. And you want them to see the real you, just like in a relationship. We think that new guy we just met wants us to be a certain way, and we try being that. It works for a while, but the strain of being that made up person starts wearing on us. Then we start resenting them, because it’s their fault we have to hold up this mask.
I know it’s counter intuitive, but being real and vulnerable is more attractive than perfect and inauthentic. I know. I used to be the original Iron Maiden. I could do everything by myself, thank you very much. During my senior year at the Barbara Brennan School, I got pregnant with Ariana. Suddenly, I couldn’t do everything to my high standards. Some days I was too weak to do an exercise, or stay awake during class! And the feedback I got was that it made me more accessible. More human. People liked me more, not less.
Do an experiment. Try this out in your love life. I think you’ll find being real, seals the deal.