If Pamela Anderson were to endorse all things natural, it would raise quite a few eyebrows, wouldn’t it? We mean, here’s someone whose decided that some things natural should be enhanced by a generous scoop of silicone!
The point we are trying to make is: what you say can’t contradict your persona or appearance. You need to sound credible. And not just say it right but also look it. Be it at a corporate presentation or a field talk.
At a recent forum on women and their critical role in transforming India, we had a young leader dealing with policy related matters address us. What could have been an inspiring talk wilted into an unenthusiastic speech that failed to make an impression. Why?
Due to a mix of reasons beginning with appearance. You can’t talk about lakhs of Indian being deprived of basic facilities looking like you’re all dressed to party. It works terrifically if you are discussing the under privilleged while daintily biting into paneer tikka at the party of the season, but at a forum, it makes your audience go, “oh yeah, really?” Barely two minutes into your talk and you’ve got the audience weighing every word you say with a heavy sense of skepticism just by making the wrong fashion choices.
Even if your audience is willing to overlook the minor matter of appearance, what tilts the odds against you is lack of conviction. If you are making a point, you should sound like you believe in it. It’s cool to talk ‘development’, but it’s even better if you can sound passionate about it.
This was in stark contrast to a straight-from-the-heart speech delivered by a woman of humble origins, who in her broken Hindi narrated the trials of her life to an English-speaking audience. That took some courage; that needed a lot of conviction. There was no pretense in that talk, no attempt at making an impression. It was just warm, spontaneous experience sharing. And the standing ovation she received was proof of the impact it had.
Which brings us to the take-aways. Impeccable accents and fabulous vocabularies are no substitutes for sincere words spoken from the heart. If you want your audience to listen to you, and more importantly believe in your words, you need to say it right. And you need to look it too.