Tag Archives: just be yourself

Just be yourself.

Easy to say but not always easy to do in a competetitive pitch. Or in an interview. The pressures, particularly for the less experienced, will include the usual suspects- worry about  your script, letting the team down, looking nervous, making eye contact, handling visuals, getting your message across, creating the right impression and so on….


With experience  the suspects dwindle and your normal self, performing at its best, comes into play.  And most people do have such a self. This is the one that comes alive in animated conversation where strongly held views are being expressed, and listened to.  About a ‘must see’ movie, the restaurant you must try or whether Beckham deserved selection.

In these conversations you will not gaze, with unflinching eye contact, trying to dominate your audience or trot out a shopping list of  loud uninterrupted reasons why. You will, naturally, gesture to make a point, you will, naturally, pause for thought, you will attack key phrases for emphasis and you will use occasional eye contact to check your message is connecting. Everyone has their own characterisic best self and this is what is needed in the pitch.


Usually, unless nerves really take over, this best self will start to assert itself as the pitch goes on but this may be too late. First impressions matter! All the emotional judgement swings into action in those few early seconds and will colour the rational conclusions of your audience throughout the pitch. Worse still, your ‘ inhibited’ self is not the one that inspires you, which makes  inspiring the audience difficult.

Experience, training, rehearsal are all important, but one way to hit the ground running with your best self is to focus your preparation on how you start the pitch, start each segment, start each new argument. Think of your first words as the most important. Words that are natural to you and words, like signposts, that allow you to introduce the subject with confidence and attack. Get these right and all that follows will be easier. 


 As Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken”.


And if you can’t find that best self take Bob Marley’s advice: “When you smoke the weed it reveals you to yourself “.

Just be yourself

It is so simple to say, but surprisingly difficult to achieve in the hot house of a pitch when nerves are jangling, but being yourself, being conversational, is all that is needed to get through to your audience. You do not need to be an actor or assume the mantle of a speaker on a soap-box at Hyde Park Corner.

In informal, non-pitch meetings, that is how most of us are.  Engaging, listening, allowing space for response or for our words to be heard/recieved.   Under pressure to ‘perform’ in a presentation, there is always the danger of going into hyper over-drive, talking at, over emphasis, losing awareness of whether the audience is in recieving mode. You stop being your natural self.

This issue is well expressed in a recent post on www.presentationzen.com “In Zen, we put emphasis on demeanour, on behaviour… the natural expression of yourself.  You should be true to your mind, expressing yourself without any reservations.  This helps  the listener understand more easily…. Without any intentional, fancy way of adjusting yourself, to express yourself as you are is the most important thing”.(Shunryu Suzuki).

The secret to being yourself is simple. Rehearse.  The more you rehearse the more natural you become.  And the easier to listen to and understand.

Thoughts on how to rehearse are in the Best Practice Guides.