Boris has it, Trump has it, Corbyn has it, and May may have it…..but not everyone does. The “it”is authenticity.
Whether you’re delivering a speech or appearing on a TV interview – the audience needs to see the real you. Your commitment, passion and enthusiasm come across immediately and without it, there is little incentive for the audience to hear you out. They may hate what they see or hear but at least they need to know you are genuine, you care and you have fire in your belly. This will come across in everything you do.
When John Prescott thumped a protester on a walk-about in Wales – it felt like the real John Prescott. When Ed Miliband struggled to eat a bacon sandwich – that too spoke volumes about his lack of authenticity as a man of the people. During the last election, Labour party strategist decided to let Jeremy be Jeremy – a very different approach to the tightly scripted campaigns of previous Labour contenders.
In the 1970s UCLA Professor Albert Mehrabian concluded that our attitudes about what someone says, when talking about feelings and attitudes, comes not by the actual words spoken, but by the speaker’s body language and tone of voice. If words and body language are incongruent– the audience take the real meaning from the non-verbal– hence the disaster of the bacon sandwich.
Sometimes people claim that media training makes everyone grey, bland and indistinct. That is not the purpose or intention of media training. Good training will teach you skills to get out of trouble but also help you amplify your messages including the use of non-verbal messages.
This may mean giving examples that bring the issues you care about to life and a vehicle for sharing your passion. If you are talking about the protection of lions in Africa – explain what happens to the pride when a dominant male is slaughtered. If you’re aiming to increase investment in cancer research – give at least one example where investment has saved lives. You know that by talking about the things close too your heart, passion and authenticity will flow.
If you’re being filmed out an about – make sure the location is appropriate and consistent with your message. When Tony Blair delivered his memorable “Peoples’ Princess” tribute to Princess Diana in August 1997, he was standing in the grounds of a historic church in his Sedgefield constituency. How much more appropriate than his political rival, William Hague, who delivered his personal tribute outside of his family pile.
Remember when you are filmed and whenever you speak -you are being judged not just on what you say but who we think you are.