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Become a better public speaker by tapping into your ‘personas’

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Shola Kaye
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Shola Kaye

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Did you ever feel like a phony on stage? In this article, let’s explore how you can use the concept of personas to help you feel more comfortable when you’re public speaking.

What’s a persona? We are all a combination of different traits and personalities.

When I’m playing with my goddaughters, I’m fun and lively. If I’m holding a tiny baby, I’m gentle and sweet. If I’m defending someone who’s been mistreated, I’m earnest and persistent. When I’m on stage singing in front of hundreds of people, I’m vocal, larger than life, and often a little bit cheeky — I love to banter with the audience.

So then the question is: Which is the ‘real’ Shola? The authentic me?

[Read: Are EVs too expensive? Here are 5 common myths, debunked]

Know and use your traits wisely

In reality, we are all a complex jumble of different traits. So why not call upon the traits you need at the time you need them?

During a workshop, someone once asked me, “I feel uncomfortable speaking in a loud voice when I’m on stage. Day to day, that’s not how I behave. How should I deal with this?”

What I say is, have you ever needed to speak with a louder voice before? Maybe you have a hard of hearing auntie or you’re on the phone and it’s a poor line? So you raised your voice or projected further in order to be heard. During that moment, did you feel fake? Probably not!

Call on specific behaviors to get the best results in your presentations

In the same way, we can assess our speaking situations and add in a sprinkle (or a dollop) of whichever trait or behavior we need to get us the best result.

  • Do you need to project your voice? Pretend you’re talking to an elderly relative who is a little hard of hearing.
  • You need to be fiery and energetic? Visualize cheering on your favorite team or going to a loud concert or show.

Write a list of all the different situations you regularly find yourself in, and how each one makes you behave. Then you can call on that behavior at the appropriate point of your presentation.

For example:
           Supporting my son when he’s playing soccer: passionate and loud
           Out for a cocktail with girlfriends: upbeat and humorous

Hopefully, you’ll realize that you have an array of mannerisms, voices, and demeanors at your disposal, all of which are naturally you.

Channel your energy

It’s about harnessing the energy you need. That way you can step out the self that says “I can’t do it,” or “It’s not me,” or “I’m too small for this,” and be a bigger person. A person who has the energy to give to an entire group. A person who radiates what’s in her heart and lets that energy touch tens, hundreds, or even thousands of people, instead of just one or two.

How do you want to be seen? What additional energy or behavior do you want to incorporate into your speeches?

Decide when and where you might need an extra energy boost from one of your personas to help you give your best performance.

This article was originally published on Shola Kaye.

Published September 22, 2020 — 11:00 UTC