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Sally Forman psychotherapist wellington

Speak from Your Heart, 7 Ways to Be Real

by Sally Forman

How at ease and confident are you at being who you are, at being yourself when you are speaking in front of a group? Whenever you are communicating, be it offering an opinion in a board meeting, giving a presentation to colleagues or making a speech at a best friend's wedding, you are expressing yourself. For many of us, self-expression brings fear.

Here are seven ways that will support you to focus on what really matters, being real, being your authentic self. When we are real, we speak from our hearts. The ways are about being authentic when you speak, and not doing authenticity. When we are truly authentic it shows up most powerfully in the way we are. From that place what we do has even greater impact. Here are the ways of being:

Be Silent

Allow stillness, silence. When you start from stop or silence, and allow pauses, it will support you to connect and become more comfortable with yourself without words. Being silent is different to going blank. When you are silent you are open to what is possible, what comes naturally, in connection. When you are blank you are disconnected, from thoughts, words, self and your audience.
Being silent is the foundation of listening, and words. Being still connects you to your real voice.

Be Present

Mistakes, public failures, and humiliations can leave you locked in the past or anticipating the future. Expanding your capacity to be in the now allows for spontaneity and confidence as you become aware of your inner resources. It engages you with your audience.

Be Aware

With a soft, relaxed gaze use your eyes to take in the people in your audience. See them and let them see you. Be available for connection with one person at a time, as if you are having a series of one on one conversations. Being engaged with your listeners in this way communicates that you are not afraid to be seen. It also puts you and your audience at ease.

You may be used to expecting judgment from your audience. You have learnt to avert your gaze. When you do this you don’t notice their looks of appreciation and support. Each time you glance away it is experienced by your audience as a disengagement. When you free your eyes to see and receive the support you will relax and your audience will be more engaged – because you and they are connected.

Be Attuned

Listen to your audience before and whilst you are speaking. Notice the emotion on their faces, the impact of your words going out and being received and listen to the ambience of the space. When you listen to your audience it engages and includes them in what you are communicating. You make it easier for people to trust you. It takes your focus off yourself. You will become less self-conscious. You will become more effective in your communication because it will become a two-way exchange. It will shift from speaking at to speaking with.

Be Affirming

Look for the best in others, for a quality in each individual. ‘Seeing’ each person in your audience in this way will make them feel less threatening. Your audience will respond to the warmth and regard you will communicate in your gaze when you are seeing the best in them. And you will be less fearful. As speaker you can consciously create the field around you. You can focus on the fear or you can choose to focus on the qualities of each individual in your audience.

Be Connected

Be with one person at a time. Create rapport by speaking with one person at a time, as if you are having a series of one on one relationships or conversations. Notice the person, speak to her allowing your words to land before moving onto the next person. Stay with the person long enough to really sense your relationship in those moments.

You may be used to ‘spraying’ the audience with your words. When you do this you and your audience will not be connected.
When you connect with each individual they will take in your presence, your message and remember the quality of the connection they felt with you. Have a conversation with one person, then another and then another. The more you practise this the more rapport you will create and the more powerfully you will connect.

Be Yourself

The way to compel rapt attention when you speak is to be yourself. Being yourself earns admiration and respect, makes your message stronger and inspires.

Express yourself authentically. Listen fully to yourself. Notice the critical voices that may want to speak for you and listen beyond them. Listen to what you want to say and the true expression of who you are that matches it. Learn to know the sound of your own unique voice. Where you, your thoughts and your words become one you will move into resonance, inside and out. When you speak from the core of who you are you will connect with your strengths, earn respect and inspire your audience.

And an invitation...

Have a go. Imagine you are in front of an audience. Allow yourself to take a full breath. Allow yourself to arrive. And from this place, be silent, be present, be aware, be attuned, be affirming, be connected and be yourself. Notice how it feels. Notice what happens next from these different places of being. What is possible from here?

Article posted 25 February 2014

Sally Forman is a Registered Psychotherapist, Certified Life Coach and Speaking Circles Facilitator with a private practice in Wellington  arrow-10find out more