What You Should Learn From Awesome Speakers (And Why Imitation is Folly)

Learn from JFK Public SpeakingIf you want to hone your speaking skills, should you check out the best practices of awesome speakers and make it your business to learn from these folks so you can emulate or even imitate what they do?

After all, why reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to and weren’t Mark Twain and George Bernard Shaw right when they said:

  • “There’s no such thing as a new idea. That’s impossible.” and
  • “Imitation isn’t just the sincerest form of flattery – it’s the sincerest form of learning”.

Of course, on both counts.

Truth is, there is very little that’s new under sun and as Churchill opined:

“Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are destined to repeat them.”


Why Immitation, No Matter How Well Done, Dents Your Speaking Impact

Yes, there’s a ‘but’…And it’s the reason you need to steer away from hitting any ‘copy’ buttons!

While imitating crafts you observe from great speakers may absolutely allow you to appear more polished and confident at the podium in shorter order, let me ask you this…

…When was the last time you placed a premium value on any product you believed to be a copy – and please feel free to think of any expensive watch, leather product, clothing or other luxury type brand you like?

Chances are, even if you felt it appeared to be similar to/as good as the original of the species, your interest and trust in that product was diluted because it wasn’t ‘genuine’ or ‘authentic’.

And therein lies a really important lesson if you want people to place greater trust in you and to care more about anything you have to say (and as mentioned in a previous post):

You simply must dare to be different (both in style and substance) or face the prospect that your words will have less effect.

By all means learn from others, but then you must back yourself to ‘be your best you’ as you express your own truths to win more hearts and minds. Remember this:

Audiences are far more likely to both think about and value different views, authenticity delivered, ahead of any amount of polish!


Photo credit: FDR Presidential Library & Museum
















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