Unleashing Your Communication & Performance Potential





How often have you exclaimed that a speaker moved you because the speech and speaker had the ring of authenticity? Perhaps you haven’t said that too often, but you do remember those times when you’ve known in your heart that what you are hearing and seeing is the real thing. One dictionary definition of authenticity is that it is “The quality or condition of being authentic, trustworthy, or genuine.” The quality of authenticity has been called “the ultimate in credibility.” The opposite of authenticity are words like “fake,” “untrue,” “pretend” and phrases like “pull the wool over your eyes,” and “pull a fast one.” How do you think your audiences rank you for authenticity? Why is it that speakers who exude authenticity connect with their listeners at a deep level without having to be “clever?” Do you create that kind of connection? How do you improve your authenticity as a speaker? I’d like to share with you my observations and experiences of the essential elements of authenticity and how you can make this “ultimate in credibility” part of your brand as a speaker. Here are my three components of authenticity for a speaker: Truth – Congruency –Focus.


Truth -- Speak the truth. This means you communicate what you know and believe to be true and do not communicate things that violate the truth. The fable about George Washington as a little boy telling his dad, “Father, I cannot tell a lie; I chopped down that cherry tree,” gives us a thrill because even when it was to his disadvantage, little George Washington told the truth. We are moved because we are attracted to people whose words we can trust. When a speaker is not telling the truth, he or she has to work extra hard to appear to be telling the truth. Some are better at lying than others, but why go to the extra effort to lie when it is much easier and internally satisfying to be true to the person who stares back at you from the mirror? When you, the speaker, tell the truth, your voice will be sure, your gaze will be steady, and your demeanor will command the audience. Your listeners will sense that they can depend on the genuineness and truthfulness of what you say.


In the Toastmasters program, the first speech that a beginning member delivers (the “Icebreaker” speech) is usually looked forward to by other members and many call it their “favorite.” Why is that? It’s because the objective of the icebreaker speech is to introduce one’s self to the audience. Audience members can get to know this new member as a person. When properly done, the speech comes across as authentic.


Congruency – “Congruency” refers to parts of a whole fitting together seamlessly as a unified whole. What you say (verbal), what you sound like when you say it (vocal), and what you look like when you say it (visual) all come together to present the same message. When you are not centered on truth, your speech will be incongruent, meaning that the verbal, vocal, and visual components of your speech will not fit; they will be like ill-fitting pieces of a jig saw puzzle! When audience members sense that, the speaker’s credibility is damaged. When the speaker’s credibility is lost, there is no point in speaking. How do you master congruency? Two things: speak the truth and filter your words through your heart. To filter your words means that while your words are selected by your thinking mind, only the words consistent with the truth in your heart are expressed by your tongue. I don’t know whether this is true of native American Indian language, but I recall reading in the ‘Cowboys and Indians’ comic books of my childhood that a liar was one who “spoke with a forked tongue.” Your tongue is figuratively split when what you say is different from what you know in your heart to be true. It is in your heart that you store your respect for the truth, respect for the audience, and respect for your topic. Speech content that is filtered through the heart gathers with it a compelling force that draws the hearts of listeners, transforming a speech into an “experience.” I call this speaking the HTM language: Heart – Tongue --Mind in harmony. If you want to be a great speaker, you don’t have to be a computer/software-whiz and know HTML, but you should definitely know and practice the HTM language!


Focus – You, the authentic speaker focuses on only two things during your speech – your audience, and your message. You do not have the inclination or the time to think about how you look, what impression you are making, or whether the audience likes you. You get lost in the message and in connecting with the audience because you are committed to giving value to your listeners. Paradoxically, it is in forgetting yourself that you become your genuine self… and genuineness is a hallmark of authenticity. If you are racked with nervousness or self-doubt of any sort, you will not be able to fully focus on your audience and your message because some of your internal energy will turn inward to protect yourself from your deficiencies, many of them imagined. How do you create the right kind of focus? Prepare well for your presentation, do what it takes to feel good about yourself, feel passion for your topic, and feel gratitude for your audience. When all these things are in place, your focus will be in the right places – your audience and your message – and you will speak with authenticity. It is true that an authentic speaker should be self-revelatory in appropriate ways, but it needs to be with humility and not in a boastful, self-aggrandizing way.


An Exercise You Can Do with the “Top American Speech of the 20th Century”

Have you noticed that when someone reads from a manuscript, it is hard to get a sense of the authenticity of the speaker and the message? Why is that? I think it has to do with engagement. When a speaker looks you in the eye, you get a sense that the speaker wants to connect with you. Although you don’t usually speak back, you mentally engage in actively interfacing with the message. In addition, the speaker gets a sense of your receptivity because your facial expressions, body language, and, in a small group setting, your eyes are visible to the speaker! In any setting where communicating from the heart is important, consider ditching your notes and speaking eye-to-eye and heart to heart, whether to one person or to 200,000 people. Why 200,000? That is approximately the number of people (rounded down) who thronged the Washington Memorial on August 28, 1963 to hear the leader of the American Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. speak. Thirty-six years later, a poll of scholars of Public Address voted that speech, popularly known as the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, as the top American speech of the 20th century. Here’s an exercise that will be inspiring to try and educational to do with that speech. A You Tube link to the speech is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smEqnnklfYs


This is what I want you to do:

  1. Play the You Tube recording and watch MLK for a sense of authenticity.
  2. You will notice that MLK initially uses a manuscript, reading from it, and sounding very formal, although for that time, formal speech was acceptable and expected. I don’t rank MLK highly in authenticity for that part of the speech.
  3. Watch and note at what time into his 17-minute speech MLK abandons the manuscript and seems to speak extemporaneously and more authentically?
  4. Notice how his vocal variety, body language, eye contact, and authenticity come alive after that point in his speech? Notice how the audience seems to get engaged and moved more powerfully once he begins to speak without notes?
  5. Challenge yourself from now on, to speak without notes when ever possible. Of course, before you speak without notes, you should make some notes and rehearse your talk so that when the time comes, you can ditch the notes and speak with confidence.
  6. After you’ve analyzed MLK’s ‘I Have a Dream Speech,’ send me an e-mail at drdilip@centralpenn.edu, telling me at what time (into his speech) MLK ditched his notes and began to command his audience more powerfully. I will publish your name and photo in a future e-newsletter!

Interestingly, authoritative sources have said that at some point in the speech, when MLK was still using his manuscript, the famous Gospel singer Mahalia Jackson who was sitting behind him shouted, “Tell them about the dream, Martin, tell them about the dream!” Soon after Mahalia Jackson’s exhortation MLK ditched the notes, and delivered the most memorable part of his address, using parts of speeches he had delivered to other audiences at previous times. It is that speech that electrified people then and continues to inspire people around the world. Thanks for the prompt, Mahalia!


What’s New?

The Diamond Club portal has been streamlined and made easier to access and use. For more information about the Diamond Club and how it can benefit you, please read below!


Brand New in 2013: “Communicate with Distinction” Leadership Retreat

March 1-3, 2013

Why? Because “Every time you speak, you audition for leadership.” – James Humes.

Covering sixteen hours of face time with three highly experienced and acclaimed trainers from Central Pennsylvania, this weekend program will be focused on giving leaders and aspiring leaders the knowledge and skills they need to excel in spoken as well as written communications.

The Leader as Speaker:

  • An easy, effective, time-saving speech preparation method
  • How to increase the clarity of any speech
  • Secrets for connecting with and captivating your audience
  • Proven speech techniques that inform, inspire, persuade and motivate
  • Principles for effective PowerPoint presentations
  • How to speak with confidence, with command, and without notes

Strategies to become a “standing Ovation Keynote” speaker!


The Leader as Writer:

  • How to engage your readers immediately
  • The language of leadership: write to influence
  • Easy grammar guidelines for good impressions
  • Clarity is king: making content memorable.
  • Writing for readability
  • How to write specialty letters (such as for celebrations, condolences, motivational, encouragement, etc.)

Register now at http://communicatewithdistinction.eventbrite.com


Dr. Dilip Abayasekara
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in Time


January 10:

Mind Mapping/
Functional Analysis Workshop Mid-Atlantic Corporate FCU, Middletown, PA


January 14:

Speech Coaching, Summerdale, PA


January 19:

Speech Coaching, Action Coach, Summerdale, PA


January 25-27:

Large Church Initiative, New Cumberland, Susquehanna Conference


January 30:

Speech Coaching, Skype/webcam


February 2:

Speech Coaching, Summerdale, PA


February 6:

Speech Coaching, Skype/webcam


February 9:

Keynote Speech, Toastmasters D6 TLI, Bloomington, IL.


February 15:

CBMC luncheon, downtown Harrisburg


February 20:

Emcee Educational Foundation Retreat, Central Penn College, PA


March 1-3:

Leadership Retreat: Communicate with Distinction. Camp Hill, PA


Are you living the life you have always wanted?

LIFE offers a holistic approach to personal development.

Find out at http://www.the-life-team.com


Quote to
Think About


“When you are real in your music, people know it and they feel your authenticity.”

-Wynona Judd

If you found this newsletter helpful and would like more in-depth speech guidance, come join the Diamonds Club. Here is what you get from membership in the Diamonds Club:

  • A monthly video training session on how you can become a more competent and confident public speaker. This will run from 8-15 minutes and you can play it as many times as you want to extract the maximum learning from it.
  • Free quarterly webinars, which will go into depth on public speaking skills as well as special communication topics that will help you reach ever-higher levels of knowledge and competence.
  • Receive an evaluation of your upcoming speech. Submit a video clip or script of a speech you are preparing to give. Receive expert feedback that will inform you about what you are doing well and receive practical tips on how to improve your presentation.
  • A Q & A Forum where you can submit your questions about public speaking and communication. Learn from the answers, not just to your questions, but also answers to questions posed by others.

You can hurdle time and money obstacles because for a low monthly fee, you can access all of the above 24/7! For more details and to sign up, click here.