Authenticity...and how to fake it

“You know son,” said the crusty old politician, to the bright eyed, idealistic junior staffer in the bad suit. “Authenticity is the currency of the politician… If you can fake that you’ve got it made.” And with a chain smoking induced cackle, he walked away.

Crestfallen, I resented those words. They represented all I abhorred about politics, and all I had vowed to change.

For much of my political and communications career I failed to comprehend the lesson until, one day, the scales fell from my eyes.

The power of language is not just derived from the clinical meanings of the words used but;

  • Who says it,

  • How it is said,

  • And in what context

The adage that we remember how it was said long after we remember what was said is the lesson he was trying to teach.

He wasn’t suggesting authenticity could be faked, he was suggesting authenticity is ALL that matters.

And I see this lesson play out every day in corporate speeches.

Many believe the TED Talk format is the ultimate demonstration of a speaker in command of their material and their audience but, if its not natural to you, then it’s not authentic. Not everyone speaks best roaming the stage with a “mun” and an untucked shirt.

Substance doesn’t care what you are wearing. It doesn’t matter what you look like if you don’t believe what you are saying. If you are better behind a lectern, use one, don’t let the format steal your home ground advantage.

Coaching a speaker is not about crafting a product, its more like mining, cutting and polishing a diamond…All the value is already there, it just needs to be released. If you cut it the wrong way the value is lost.

Impactful speaking is very simple. Say something you really mean in a way you really mean it. The rest will follow.

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