Vulnerability in Public Speaking. Be Real. Be Present. Be You.

By | January 3, 2017

It Takes Courage

Making an authentic connection with your audience takes courage. If you want to create an impact it requires being yourself.


For some that’s hard. It’s a lot easier when public speaking, to talk about the latest company figures or systems. Peeling back the onion layers of your unique self can be hard, and some may say what’s the point?

Leave Your Ego At The Door

A speaker who is able to connect and inspire an audience; leaves their own ego at the door and shares a message as if offering a gift to the audience. Think about choosing a gift for someone. You ponder over what they may like, purchase, then wrap the gift carefully to give it an extra special presentation. You want the recipient to enjoy the gift, it gives you pleasure to see the look on their face when you know they have received the perfect gifLisa Evans Speaking Savvy Gift of Speakingt.

Think of your speech as a gift that you want your audience to enjoy and remember.

Your speech is never about you. There is no quicker way to lose an audience than by trying to push something onto them, or constantly talk about yourself.  

By focussing on what your audience needs, you will ensure that you are delivering an audience-centric message with your audience planted firmly in the heart of the message. Carefully crafted stories can help you win the hearts and minds of your audience.   When the audience is able to see themselves in your story then your message will stick. 

Stories Are At The Heart of Successful Presentations

It takes courage to step up and be yourself. It’s so much easier to hide behind data, charts, handouts and slides, but that’s not how to create a compelling and lasting connection. 

Stories are at the heart of the most successful presentations. Real, relevant and relatable stories, shared in a way that enables the audience to feel that they are there alongside you in the story.  

Don’t Be Perfect, Be Prepared, Be Present

Nailing a presentation is not about being perfect, it’s about being prepared and present in the moment.  It’s not how skilled you are in rhetorical techniques or vocabulary, but rather speaking with words and emotion from your heart to resonate with others.

When you stop trying to present a technically competent speech and focus on connecting at a human level, you will begin to enjoy speaking in public so much more.

Be Vulnerable When You Speak

So what does being vulnerable mean when it comes to speaking in public?  It’s not over-sharing or giving too much information. It’s not sharing a story, for the sake of sharing a story.

Being vulnerable is about being real, relevant, and remarkable, in your rawness and uniqueness. Being the best version of yourself, complete with all the flaws and imperfections, because guess what? Your audience is real and unique too, they may even have the same flaws and imperfections that you are trying so hard to cover up.

The Power Of Vulnerability

According to Brené Brown

“Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy — the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light”

Her research defines vulnerability as; uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.

There is a sense of vulnerability in sharing our ideas with others. We don’t know how others will view our ideas, we run the risk of others shunning our ideas,  we may even receive ridicule rather than encouragement.

People may then put a wall up, to try to protect themselves against this ridicule and no longer venture into the world of emotional exposure for fear of it happening again.  They feel too uncomfortable with the prospect of rejection that they miss out on the opportunity for connection.

Yet in trying to protect ourselves from that awkward and uncomfortable feeling if others shun our ideas, we are holding back on really connecting with others.

Brené Brown believes that it takes true courage to be open and honest about our feelings. It allows for connection with others, whereas constantly trying to be perfect and hiding behind a seemingly strong and capable facade, can push people away.

You are unique and people are interested in hearing you and what you have to say with your authentic voice. Interested in Live Storytelling? Let’s have a chat, I’m always keen to hear from people who may like to share a story at an event.

Being vulnerable is not oversharing and baring all. Nor is it saying exactly what is on your mind or how you feel if that may upset others, It’s about genuinely sharing from a place of trust and respect.

In her TED talk, The Power of Vulnerability which has over 28 million views, Brené Brown challenges us all to think about our own shame and fears. She says, being vulnerable is about showing up and being heard and having the courage to know that you have something worth sharing.

You Have Stories Worth Sharing

If you really want to create an authentic connection with your audiences, you must be willing to be vulnerable, to open up, to share what makes you unique and what you have learned that others can benefit in hearing.

Tell your story with your whole heart. Aim to be an “all in” communicator. Use storytelling as a tool to take others on a journey and share your unique story with the world.  

If you focus on only improving one element of your speaking this year, aim to make it the power of connecting wholeheartedly.

You May Deliver A Less Than Perfect Presentation

There’s often the fear that you won’t live up to the expectations that you have set for yourself. You are probably your worst critic and you may beat yourself up for stuff that you would let go in others.

Don’t be hard on yourself. If you have the courage to stand up and share your message, then there will be times when you will deliver a less than perfect presentation. You may forget your words, you may look a bit awkward, but that’s ok. You are sharing your knowledge, your passion, and your experience. 

Give Yourself a Hug

Don’t waste time trying to conceal your flaws, it’s wasted energy. Practice your speaking to be the best version of yourself. Have fun, it’s ok to be nervous, it shows you are human and most people do feel nervous when speaking. There are ways to manage nervousness but don’t fight it.

Give yourself a hug for having the courage to stand up and share. If others see that you are nervous but you are giving it a go, then that in itself is inspiring.

Embrace the new found freedom of being a true, authentic version of yourself,  it is exhausting trying to be someone else. Be you.

What Life Lessons Are You Ready To Share?

Don’t aim for perfect aim for progress. Think about your life experiences, the wins the losses, the love and the hurt, the challenges and the celebrations. What is it that you have learned from your life’s journey? What would you do differently if you had the opportunity? What lessons are you ready to share? 

Be wholehearted. Be unashamedly you. Be real. Be present. You are meant to be you

If you are willing to share a story from your heart, trust that your story is worth sharing. There will be people who are inspired, motivated and encouraged by hearing your story. There will be others who don’t care much about what you say, and that’s OK too. For many, it is that feeling of, “hey, I’m not the only one who feels this way”, or perhaps “well, if she can do it then I can”.

Capture Your Stories

I have been a story listener, a story harvester, and a storyteller for years now. One of the best ways to capture the stories from your life is to do a simple story journalling exercise each day. 

Images courtesy of Shutterstock


Lisa Evans, MBA is a Certified World Class Speaking and Storytelling Coach. Based in Perth, Australia, Lisa works with leaders globally to help them craft and deliver powerful presentations and stories.



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