Why imitate and replicate when you can CREATE.
I see and hear people all the time complaining or envying people who are great speakers. People wish for Steve Job’s gravitas or Margaret Thatcher’s intensity. They want Nelson Mandela’s stoic and methodical speaking ability. It is always nice to want to emulate someone and be like them; the problem is that you are not Jobs, you are not Robbins and you are not Mandela. You have innate and hidden abilities within you. Which require just as much work, to perfect and master. Those examples above didn’t just wake up and have ‘it’. Sure they must have had aspirations and idols that they wanted to model themselves on. But they didn’t abandon their strengths and abilities in order to imitate other people.
Ever see the tonnes of Elvis impersonators on TV and in places like Vegas…? Have you ever looked at them and been convinced they are perfect by comparison to ‘The King’? No, no you haven’t. There is one Elvis Presley, many people try to be him, but no one ever will. Just like there’s only one YOU. That’s something no one else has.
I pause a lot when I speak. It started as a simple sip of water when presenting. Because I was young, nervous and would machine gun off my sentences in an attempt to finish as quickly as possible and get off the stage. The Pause was a tactical moment in which I could sip some water (helping my cotton mouth), help compose myself and give my brain the time to compute the next leg of my presentation. Over the years, the value of that pause has changed somewhat. I don’t pause because my mouth is like the Sahara anymore. It is to have an impact on the audience. It is to let an audience think about something important. It is a device in which I can use a story or an image to illicit a moment of reflection amongst the audience. Of course I still like a sip of water when presenting though!
“Well timed silence hath more eloquence than speech” – Martin Fraquhar Tupper
The more you practice and the more you learn, the more you will see what is unique to you. Everyone gets nervous and has worries when speaking publicly. My greatest weapon is the pause, and that was born out of a remedy for a dry mouth. What might be a coping mechanism now when presenting, might be your own tailored style just waiting to be nurtured and moulded into something good and powerful in the future.
I will finish by saying, not all of my quirks have been beneficial. I used to have a jittery leg that I would rock when standing to present. It was distracting and would draw the audience away from my presentation. So be mindful, not all peculiarities can be made into a force for good. Most have to be stamped out!
Look up to the Titans in your profession and seek to emulate their positive attributes, as Speakers and as role models. Do not abandon your positive attributes while seeking to copy others. Take stock of what you possess, not what you desire to possess.