The public speaking blogs have recently had a lot to say about the importance of being “natural” when you speak.Â
Indeed, one of the most common pieces of advice for speakers is “Speak to the audience like you’re having a beer with them.” Â It’s advice I give all the time.
But the idea of “naturalness” is a little deceptive. When you’re standing in front of a room of listeners, you don’t feel natural. In that circumstance, you don’t feel like you’re having a beer.Â
So what do you do?
First you need to know your material cold. If you don’t know what you’re going to say extremely well, then you’re not going to be able to come across as “natural.”
Next, you need to exaggerate the energy, giving more facial and vocal energy that you’d otherwise use “naturally.” Â For most people, that exaggerated style will come across as “natural.” That exaggerated style will overwhelm the anxiety and come as highly connected. It won’t necessarily feel “natural” to the speaker. But it will look natural to the audience.
And it’s better to look natural than to feel natural.