[Editor’s Synopsis: This article encourages people to be authentic. Whenever you stand before an audience, they will have impression of you. That impression has a lasting effect. What the audience hears and how they perceive the speaker is important. You need to be more aware of the audience perception. The following is 519 Words.]

What Image Do You Project when you Speak?

by Joe Curcillo

After a jury trial for burglary, I was sitting in a local diner with Denny, the defense attorney; I was a prosecutor at the time. A woman approached us and stared. We acknowledged her, but she shook her head and did not speak. I asked, “You were our jury foreperson today, weren’t you?”

“Yes. Why are you two eating together?”

I simply responded with a polite but terse, “We got hungry. Would you like to sit down?”

She replied with a slight stammer, “But you two are here together. You are eating and talking and . . . We deliberated for an hour, and . . .” Then, looking toward me, she continued, “You won. We decided that in ten minutes. We spent the next forty-five minutes discussing how much you two hated each other.”

Denny laughed. “In the courtroom, he is a pain, I hate him. Everywhere else, we’re the best of friends.”

The juror walked away in a daze. Watching us joke and laugh over our plates of chicken and waffles jarred the reality she created because of our “in-court” personas. We were both warriors. We both fought for our beliefs. We were both unwavering in our commitment to our duty.

What she saw was a battle: two samurais fighting to the death. While we thought we were both respectful and cordial in court, the jury interpreted our actions as hate for each other.

The jury had been, by their own emotions, pulled into the world they chose to believe. It certainly was not a world we intended, but it worked to my clear advantage.

If you give presentations or speak before crowds I hope you’re in the habit of making video recordings of your work. When you do, also record the audience. The ability to watch the audience and yourself will help you acquire a sense of how the audience is reacting to your every move.

Ask yourself who is in the audience. What type of people are they? Are they there because they want to have a good time? Are they there because they want to learn? What are their shared experience levels? How much do they already know versus what they need to be taught? Are they there to see you? What does the audience already know about you?

When you speak to an audience as your authentic self, the real you will shine through. You may actually care about your audience, but if you don’t take the time to provide them information, they may feel as if they are neglected. If they do not have sufficient experience to stay in step with you, they will feel as if they have been left behind.

It is imperative that you do not confuse the image you believe you are conveying with the image being received. Ensuring that the images are one and the same requires considerable thought and self-evaluation.  Allow your personality to shine through. Do not become bogged down in your presentation or they will never truly get to know you, because the material will stand in the way. Be yourself and be authentic.

  • JOE CURCILLO is a speaker, consultant and entertainer who focusses on his passion for improving leadership, communication & culture with a Unifying Vision. He is the author of the Best Seller Getting to ‘US’: Discover the Ability to Lead Your Team to Any Result You Desire, and Don’t be a Hamster: 30 Tips to Spark the Imagination of Busy People.