“Authenticity is a daily practice. Choosing authenticity means cultivating the courage to be emotionally honest, to set boundaries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable…”
— Dr. Brené Brown, world-renowned research professor and storyteller

There’s no denying that communication — in its multiple forms — permeates our professional and personal lives. From job interviews, conference calls and business meetings to high stakes internal messaging and public speaking engagements, more and more leaders today understand the importance of developing their unique authentic communication style.

Whether you are delivering an innovative new business plan to your boss, selling a product to a prospective client or on stage speaking in front of hundreds of people, I can attest that authentic communication is much more powerful and influencing than trying give a “perfect” presentation. Communication is about connection, not perfection.

Here’s why:

When You Are Not Authentic, Your Listeners Can Detect It.

OK, so maybe they’ll clap for you during the presentation, but they will probably never invest in your product or service, or come back to learn more. Remember, people embrace your imperfections — it helps them relate to you more. So, when you’re on stage or in any professional setting where you’re imparting wisdom to a listener, the key is to be the real, authentic you, not some cardboard cutout of who you think you should be. At the end of the day, your audience will have an authentic connection with you, and as a result, you will build trust and credibility.

Honesty is the Best Policy.

Simply put: people know when you’re not genuine. When you try to put on an over-rehearsed performance, you will not come off across as natural, and your listener will check out or not trust and believe you or your message. Instead, be yourself and present your message as you would to a group of friends this will put your listeners at ease and make yourself more relatable. The key is your mindset and intention. If you realize that you are only speaking to share information that is valuable and beneficial to your listener, then you will be more genuine and natural.

When the Stakes Are High, So is the Pressure to Perform

News flash! When you are speaking to a group of people, it’s not about you. Rather, it’s about your listener(s). After all, they didn’t come to your presentation just to see you in all your glory; in fact, the truth is, you are actually the last thing on their mind.

Too many executives and employees today tend to overlook the importance of learning how to convey their ideas to others in a clear, organized and captivating manner. And more importantly, communicating their message with the primary focus on the listeners’ needs and what those listeners’ genuinely value.

It’s important to realize that the reason people have committed their time to listen to what you have to say is to hopefully gain valuable, useful information that will ultimately make a positive impact on their work, their company, and perhaps even their life.

My advice to those of you who struggle with communicating effectively is to understand that you are merely the “messenger.” You don’t have to be perfect. You simply need to present real value and benefits to your listeners from your authentic self and share your conviction.

This strategy requires a shift in your perspective. Traditionally, most speakers focus on selling a product or persuading their listeners. However, if you want to succeed in communicating your ideas, you must craft your messaging solely around the needs and concerns of your listeners, especially if want to influence them and give them the one thing they want from you value.

The Bottom Line

The truth is, you can have years of experience, incredible products or services or the most innovative business idea, but if you do not communicate clearly, share your conviction, and present real value from your authentic self, you will not have the impact that is so important in today’s business environment.

So, whether your goal is to advance your professional growth, take your business to the next level, or inspire, influence and motivate others to follow your lead, remember, you are your most powerful when you are yourself. Your gift is your uniqueness. Let your real self shine. Authenticity is vulnerable, but it will connect you to your listener on a level you might not have ever expected. And communication is all about connection.