Being authentic on stage.

Edvard Raft | Rhetoric consultant ● Facilitator ● Keynote speaker

January 24 | 2020

Can you be truly authentic as a speaker, while standing behind a podium and even reading your notes?

The answer is Yes.

Authenticity is not What you Do – but How you Do It.

The main goal I have with everyone I coach in rhetorics, storytelling and public speaking is to help them find their voice as a speaker and be more authentic on stage. That has also been my own main goal and it’s one of the things I feel makes this subject incredibly interesting and rewarding, even after over a decade of speaking about rhetoric, storytelling and public speaking.

The way I see it, some things need to be very CLEAR, and some things need to be ACKNOWLEDGED, to be more AUTHENTIC on stage as a speaker.

The thing that should be very CLEAR is:

Your purpose

And a rhetorical purpose is not to sell more of this or to inform more about that.

A rhetorical purpose aims to clarify what you need your presentation or speech to achieve within the audience’s minds and hearts. 

The purpose can be translated to the thing that needs to happen inside your audience for your goals with the presentation to be met.

One simple example would be:

To build trust for me, my experience in this field and my services.

This purpose is something that would need to happen for my audience to be open to hear my ideas and proposals (which could be an example of one of my goals). 

With a clear purpose, you can more easily relax, meet your audience face to face, look inside yourself and pull up the stories and examples that you have lived and that will serve your purpose.

The things that should be acknowledged if you want to be more authentic as a public speaker are: 

Your positive qualities as a speaker as well as your challenges. 

When I give courses or coaching in rhetorics, storytelling and public speaking I always start by letting everyone answer 6 questions in what I call a speaker profiling. The profile aims to start the process of reflecting on yourself, both how you communicate and come across today as a speaker, but also how you want to be experienced. Because the way I see it without clear intentions it’s very hard to develop and evolve in the direction you want. 

So ask yourself and write down: 

  • What are my 3 best qualities as a public speaker? 

  • What are my 3 toughest challenges as a public speaker? 

Seeing and clarifying your positive qualities can help you to enhance them and also let them shine in the right moments.

Knowing your challenges will help you develop a strategy to work on these. But also, which is very important, to know when to push yourself with your challenges as a public speaker and when to be kind to yourself, if you are for example in an environment that creates more stress for you.



To know your strengths and your weaknesses, will in my experience not only help you in the long run but it will also guide you how to practically set up your next performance. And that is why there are no common rules to what makes for a great speech and what creates authenticity. 

The key to authenticity is always portrayed by the knowledge and insights you have about yourself and how well you are honoring and respecting that knowledge on stage.

So even though my general recommendation throughout the years, coaching public speaking and rhetorics, has been to speak unbound by speaker notes and move freely on stage, I love seeing examples and exceptions to confirm that when it comes to communication there are no set rules how we are suppose to behave. 

My favorite example of this is Casey Geralds TED Talk, where he shows us how we can be truly authentic, stand with full integrity, honoring ourselves while delivering a clear and important message:

”The way we are taught to live has got to change” 

Please comment like and share this article if you found it useful in some ways for you! And click follow me on LinkedIn if you like to read my next post. 

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