According to Adam Fisher, content editor for Media First, “Authenticity has become something of a buzzword in recent times. It is a term which seems to be increasingly applied to just about everything, from leaders and marketing to furniture and clothing.”
In his article about authenticity, Mr. Fisher presents six ways that a corporate spokesperson can appear authentic. I contend that it’s important for us all to be authentic in daily life. After all, we are our own spokespeople.
According to Mr. Fisher, effective communicators follow these guidelines:
That is, they don’t blurt out the first thing that comes to mind. Mr. Fisher says that authentic spokespeople “are attuned to their audience, are aware of boundaries, and know what will motivate people to take positive action and what will cause them to look away.”
They put their messages in their own words
Yes, they prepare when they need to make a public statement but not to the point that they sound overly rehearsed. Within corporate guidelines, they use their own words. As Mr. Fisher puts it, “Not only does this approach help bring messages to life and give them authenticity, but it will also increase the spokesperson’s confidence and make them more comfortable with what they are saying.”
They are human
They express their feelings—and that can include talking about what keeps them up at night or what makes them nervous—and they avoid clichés. In crisis communications, they show that they care about those who have been affected. Have you heard any recent or even not-so-recent communications that have done a good job of this?
They bring their own personal experience to the fore
Speaking about their own experiences helps spokespeople connect with their audiences. Mr. Fisher says, “Personal stories and anecdotes help make the brand relevant, provide a human side to the organization and help spokespeople grow in confidence.” Think about the times you may have shared a personal experience with someone. Your authenticity may have helped you develop a closer relationship with that person or overcome existing tension in your communications.
They are implicitly honest
But, as Mr. Fisher points out, they are subtle about their honesty. No virtue signaling here. They don’t use expressions like “I’m going to be honest with you,” because that implies that they haven’t been honest before. Their audience trusts them.
They use simple language
They don’t fancy things up so they’ll sound smart, and they don’t use industry jargon. Both practices can be alienating. They sound natural, as if they’re speaking to friends. Mark Twain probably said it best: “Don’t use a five-dollar word when a fifty-cent word will do.”
Years ago, I worked briefly in PR. Probably the best part of the job was observing a master trainer teach executives at young companies how to communicate clearly and effectively. He did a great job, and because of his expertise and the discipline he taught, these fledgling communicators did a pretty good job too.