In public speaking, intent is often disconnected from results. Speeches can often be:

  • Predictable and forgettable
  • Noteworthy for tone, but lacking content
  • Authentic and impactful.

Here are three lessons for public speaking and becoming an authentic communicator.

Find the right words

The words chosen by speakers make all the difference. Clichés, like “bright future” and “create shareholder value,” anesthetize audiences. In contrast, the word “friends” transforms a meeting from merely exchanging financial and strategic information to an opportunity for building relationships. Why does this matter? Warren Buffett once said that finding “the right word” is everything. Until he did this, he could not get his thinking clear — and clarity is essential to build trusting relationships. They are the foundation for growing sustainable, wealth-creating businesses.

Speak from your authentic purpose

Look at your thumb print: No one in a world of 7.2 billion people has a thumbprint like yours — it makes you unique. Now consider that you share 95 percent of your genetic code with a mouse. Ask yourself: What am I doing to differentiate myself from mice? How am I using my unique gifts? Ask your friends and colleagues to name them. The ones that passionately resonate with you are true gifts. Use them and hard work will seem effortless.

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Does the work you do lie somewhere near the intersection of your greatest joy and the world’s greatest needs? Choosing self-actualizing work requires courage. Business owners and managers have a choice. They can engage in the predictable dance of giving and questioning information. Instead, they should speak from a calling — to passionately speak truth to power. This choice reveals unique thumbprints.

Engage energetically

Emotional engagement inspires energetic commitment. An audience can show they listen to remarks with more than their ears; they also listen from their minds, hearts, skin and from each cell in their bodies. Committed listening arises from speakers’ commitments to finding the right words, speaking from authentic purpose and engaging energetically.

Words have power. They influence our breathing, the very source of our life. Saying the words “thank you” causes us to exhale slightly. Our bodies move closer to the person we are thanking. When we say, “I appreciate you,” we inhale and move slightly away from our listener. Words reflect our inner truths and emotions. They will evoke emotional responses in our audience. The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein described this power succinctly, “The limits of my language are the limits of my world.”

 

L. J. Rittenhouse is CEO of Rittenhouse Rankings Inc., a communications company that shows executives the risk-mitigating and wealth-creating advantages of corporate candor. An author and speaker, Rittenhouse has been featured on CNN, in The Wall Street Journal and selected as one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior in 2013. Warren Buffett recommended her bestseller, Investing Between the Lines, in his 2013 shareholder letter. For more information, please visit www.RittenhouseRankings.com.