Recently, I tried to write a series of emails for a project that my business partner and I had been working on.
Thinking I was going to be crafty and write a really good series the easy way, I modeled my first email after the format that a highly successful marketer used. You see, I had just finished going through his entire promotional sequence of emails and videos, and I was very impressed.
My business partner wrote back saying, “George, this email just doesn’t work for me. I see what you’re trying to do, but it’s off-putting.”
While he was concerned I’d be offended (I wasn’t), it was a great opportunity for a good laugh, and it reminded me of a couple of incidents where I wasn’t being myself…
Lessons about connecting with your audience by being yourself.
I had just come back from a training program on how to present and lead live workshops (Train the Trainer program); this was around 2003 or 2004.
I was practicing an introductory workshop that I was developing with my wife as an audience of one.
So I started my introduction, and two minutes into it she goes, “George, what are you doing?!?”
I said, “I’m practicing!”
She said, “No, no, no.
“You’re trying to be somebody else. You’re trying to be the guy who trained you at the Train the Trainer program. That guy cannot lead this program.
“You and only you can lead this program.
“You need to be you.”
So I got a little frustrated. I turned my back on her and regained my composure. Just took a few breaths.
I turned back around and then I started out the introduction being George.
And I didn’t expect this, but my wife broke into tears within the first 5 minutes. She got the impact of me introducing the program as me. It was powerful.
Curiously, at that very Train the Trainer program that I mentioned earlier, I was selected from the audience to come up on stage as an example.
I can’t remember exactly what the trainer asked me to speak about. But I started speaking about whatever topic it was, and he stopped me very shortly after I started. He said, “Hold on a minute.”
And he thumped me on my chest with a flat hand. Thump. Thump.
He said, “George, you’re a fit guy. “I want you to command that presence.
“Look out into this audience. (There were probably 250+ people.) “
And connect with everybody in this audience, be powerful, and project your energy to the back of the room.”
So after he pounded me on my chest, I started over, this time with a lot more energy, enthusiasm, conviction, and power.
Then he said, “Great job. That’s what I want!”
Everyone in the audience started clapping. And then I started walking off the stage.
I didn’t know this had happened, but several people in the audience were in tears.
I had them in tears. I had my wife in tears in a separate incident. So by then, you’d think I would have learned to be myself.
It’s so easy to forget this stuff!
Where in your life, particularly in your business interactions, have you attempted to be someone you’re not? And how did it go? Did it backfire?
Unless you’re a spy, mentally disturbed, or an accomplished actor, it’s a heck of a lot easier to influence and connect with others by being yourself—warts, blemishes, and all—than by attempting to cover up what you believe your shortcomings are by masquerading as someone else.
With rare exceptions, people can sense a fraud. Conversely, they can sense authenticity. Business success comes more naturally when you’re being authentic.
The next time it’s important for you to inspire and engage an audience of one or an audience of 1,000, which version of you do you want to show up? The real you? Or the fictitious you?