Authenticity: Connecting Between Words
By Mimi Donaldson
Artificial intelligence is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems. So, AI is not you. We still need to connect to demonstrate we are the real thing.
In the quest for authenticity, we get some questionable results. “Reality” television. Cringe-worthy tweets of inner thoughts and feelings. Photos of our dinner! Do these message authenticity? Some years ago, I worked on a “reality” TV show, coaching the contestants to pitch their inventions. Was it truly reality?Not so much. I will leave it there. . .
All this “reality” has birthed the trend: “tell your story.”You do need to connect. And it’s not just the words. To get your message across, you are speaking eyeball to eyeball. People connect with you in the spaces between your sentences. They do want some self-disclosure. As I say, “A speech is not an article you read aloud.”BUT—it’s a delicate balance between telling your whole life story, and inspiring people with one or two sentences.
Meeting people in a networking situation is not an opportunity to vomit your life story. Give them a sip – – don’t make them guzzle.Same thing applies in your marketing speech. Some coaches will tell you to lead with your story in a presentation. They say it will sell you and your product or service better than any other beginning. I say, “No.” Unless you are very famous and your story IS the speech, “lead with the need” of your potential client or customer. First, you assure them you know their need, pain or situation. Then give them value so they like you well enough to want to know about you. That’s when your story is appropriate. That’s how you make the authentic “reality” connection. That’s how you distinguish yourself from the others in your field.
Simon Sinek, in his book, Start With Why, says “There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.” I say sharing your story at the beginning IS manipulative. You inspire by respecting the audience enough to answer the questions in their minds – – not bombarding them with your stuff. When you work with me, we will organize your stuff, so people are leaning in, inviting the next thing you say.
Position your brief “why” story near the end of presentation – right before the call to action. It humanizes you even more. Can you get it down to one or two sentences? Yes, you can.
- My client: a mortgage banker whose mother always told her that owning a house saved their lives and gave them a future.
- My friend: a health and wellness specialist who had serious injuries and health problems in her youth.
- My dad: a heart doctor whose doctor dad died young of heart disease.
You can succinctly express your “why” story (why you do what you do—where’s the juice, the passion?)
You do want your listeners to seek you out, to say those magic five words: “I think I need you.”
Featured Image Photo Credit: Cadiz.co.za