Wednesday, 12 June, 2024

Ditch the Script: Bring on the Authenticity

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Welcome to Presenting With Power and I’m your host: Aileen Pincus.

We have all probably witnessed a really good public speaker. Someone who leaves us feeling better, thoughtful, maybe even inspired, excited about their ideas. I want to dive deeper today into what we’re seeing and reacting to when that happens; what it means to be a good, maybe even a great public speaker. I’m going to suggest that it might not be what you think.

When we’re in the audience, or in the presence of that kind of a speaker, even in a smaller, less formal setting, and we come away moved in some way, we know it. We’re sure about what we’ve just been a part of and there’s no guessing about what just happened. And like art, we know it when we see it, but it’s a little trickier to define a great public speaker.

When we try to define it, we can often miss the mark. Many of our executive clients who want to cause that inspired reaction in their audiences, think it’s about delivering a flawless performance…about, in fact, perfection. And to exhibit that kind of perfection, they believe they need to mimic what they’ve seen by writing a perfect script, memorizing it and then delivering it as though it were the role of a lifetime delivered by a trained actor…. moving flawlessly from one thought to the next, without so much as an adjustment, a correction or even a pause.

No wonder public speaking is ranked first on the list of people’s fears. Who could be expected to deliver remarks, time after time, often under pressure, with perfection? And why exactly do we think that’s what’s required of us in professional settings?

Here’s the truth: This isn’t acting. You can’t pretend your way to inspiring others. But the good news is, this isn’t about perfection either; its’ about presence. HOW are you showing up?

By that I mean, do you actually believe what you’re saying? Have you really thought about your audience and how they’re reacting to what you’re saying…what they want or need to hear? Because that’s where it starts…If you’re not excited by your own ideas, convinced of your own conclusions, you’ve got little chance of convincing anyone else.  And if that’s impossible for you on any given day, on any given subject, you’re probably not the right person to be delivering this, so look for an alternative. Because watching you give a half-hearted talk on something you’re not invested in does more damage to your reputation than if you hadn’t spoken at all. You’re not fooling anyone.

It’s got to start with the content of your talk or your speech or your briefing. When you’ve got the content right, and you’re really engaged yourself, you know you’re on the right track. You want to let that conviction SHOW. That’s what your audience is looking for. Don’t hide behind memorization of a script. That’ll kill any real sign for your audience that you’re invested in what you’re delivering.

Instead, you want to practice your content enough so that you internalize it, but don’t obsess about each word you use or phrase. Allow yourself to be in the moment. Feed off of your audience. If you see someone nodding their head in agreement, acknowledge it. If you see someone looking puzzled, stop and engage with them. STAY in the moment, so that  you can allow  yourself to really connect with an audience…

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That might mean some “imperfection” in your delivery…a pause while you consider your audience’s reaction…a repeat of a phrase that you want the audience to remember. But far from imperfection,

What your audience is really experiencing is your presence…your connection to them, and you’re commitment to persuading, explaining, or moving them in some way. That’s really powerful stuff. And you’ll come to understand just how powerful, if you’ll leave your script behind and allow yourself to really stay in the moment with your audience.

You see, that’s what they’re hoping for: a real, you had to be there experience. Something they could only get because they invested their time to show up…to hear you.

So I hope I’ve convinced you. Don’t memorize. Learn your content and then set it aside so you can stay in the moment with your audience and deliver that experience to them. They’ll reward  you for it…and you’ll learn how to deliver powerfully and effectively in a whole new way.

That’s presenting with Power for today. I’m Aileen Pincus. For more check out our website at  and join us next time for tips and techniques for charging up the power in your communications. Until next time….


Aileen Pincus launched The Pincus Group after more than two decades of communications experience, including as a local and national television reporter, a senior communications director a U.S. Senator, and as an executive trainer at a global public relations firm. She now leads training and strategy for the firm’s clients around the country, training senior executives for Fortune 500 companies, as well as for political and non-profit groups.

As President and founding partner of The Pincus Group, Aileen is a sought after speaker on effective communication for national organizations and forums having written a book for Penguin Press. She is a graduate of California State University at Northridge, School of Journalism and listed in Who’s Who as one of the nation’s most influential people.

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