Genuine self-expression is important for anyone looking to communicate effectively. Who better to demonstrate this power of authenticity than one of our own personal coaches and PowerSpeaking Trainers, Mitesh Kapadia? We sat down with Mitesh and asked a few questions about authenticity, and why it matters for him.
PowerSpeaking, Inc: Before we started this interview you described a scenario that
epitomized authenticity. I’d like to take a deeper dive into that scene. It’s 7 AM at a favorite
restaurant and you’re seated comfortably, savoring your favorite meal. As you reach
forward to enjoy the last bite, you tune into the table next to you. A young boy sits laser
focused into his tablet screen. His mother taps his knee, encouraging him to put the device
away as a waiter approaches. Startled, the young boy whines and begs to, “…just finish this
level!” His mother offers to store the device for him as they eat. Begrudgingly, he powers
down and joins her in the meal. As he turns to eat he sees she’s now absorbed in her
cellphone and registers the dissonance, "Wait, you told me to put my iPad away yet you are
using your phone all during breakfast!"
PSI: Mitesh, why did you react strongly to that scene?
Mitesh: When behavior is inconsistent between what we expect someone to do and the actions
they make, there is dissonance. Something doesn’t fit and it is noticed. The credibility of the
mother in this scenario was lost in an instant for her child. These situations often happen, and
speak to the importance of bringing authenticity into every form of communication.
PSI: Thank you…and as a trainer, tell us in your own words:
Why does authenticity matter?
M: When it comes to being an authentic trainer, the key idea is, “It’s not what you say that
matters, it’s how you model the message.” In over a decade of speaking to audiences and
training individuals, I’ve found that being authentic and garnering trust goes a long way in the
training world. It’s the basis for being heard and to have others willing to try new behaviors. My
mantra has always been that people will only listen to whom they trust. Without it, no meaningful
interaction can possibly develop between a trainer and participant. I develop trust with
participants by bringing my ‘most authentic self’ forward.
PSI: It sounds like it's important for you to find authenticity in "why" you live each day.
What does that mean and what does that mean to you?
M: The one thing that I love most about my work is that it aligns well with who I am as a person.
My ‘Why’ is always front and center. Personal empowerment is a theme that runs constantly in my
daily life and being a trainer, provides me with opportunities to help others empower themselves.
Many clients come into workshops feeling like they need a big boost in their communication skills.
From the start of the program, I model every skillset that will come forward in class and the
participants end up subconsciously following my example. If I model gesturing, for example, the
participants begin to practice gesturing without verbal directions. Then magic happens because
unlike the mom in the restaurant, there is no disconnect between what I say and how I model the
PSI: Wow! It sounds like you like participants to be genuine.
How do you encourage others to be authentically themselves?
M: Every human being has a unique personality, which reflects in his or her communication
space as well. As much as I like to equip my clients with the right tools and techniques to be an
effective presenter, I tend to focus more on bringing out their natural style. I strongly believe
that a person who is comfortable with their natural style carries a level of confidence that
makes them shine even brighter when presenting. When I have an opportunity to coach people,
I quickly study their strong points and work throughout the session to accentuate them. I
acknowledge that the majority of what they are doing in their presentations is aligned with how
they are naturally. When a person realizes the goal is not to alter their core personality but to
exemplify their existing traits, it creates an immediate confidence boost.
PSI: OK, but what if you don’t understand your own personal style yet?
M: Early in my career I admired a communications coach who orated really well. After
watching him for some time I decided to imitate him in my presentations. He used to say the
word ‘amazing’ with such passion and energy that it landed powerfully with audiences. I went
around mimicking his tone and gestures thinking it would improve my skills. Until I saw a
recording of me in action! I cringed with horror watching the clip as I realized that it was
butchering my credibility. If a person behaves one way in normal conversation, and then
behaves another way while they are presenting, that disconnect creates distrust among
PSI: So you’re saying that maintaining connection to your audience is crucial as a presenter.
What’s one simple way readers can create connection when communicating?
M: An underrated, but highly effective piece of being authentic is to make deliberate eye contact
with audience members. There is evidence to support how human beings are able to decipher
hundreds of different emotional states on a subconscious level just by looking at a person’s face
and eyes. Personally, I’ve found that there is something about the human eye-to-eye connection
that puts people at ease. As a presenter, delivering a full thought to a person while connecting
with the eyes is quite impactful. As an audience member, you feel valued and understood. I
always ask in workshops how it feels to have a one-on-one. Participants are pushed to stop
seeing a presentation as this mighty monologue. Instead, I ask them to see every presentation as
an opportunity to have a short conversation with each and every person in the room. This allows
for the room to feel more ease, ready to engage and bring forward a more authentic presence.
Eye interaction is a necessity to create that authentic connection.
PSI: It sounds like self-expression has a potential to influence and inspire others.
What’s the kind of impact bringing authenticity to communication can have?
M: It’s not too complicated to understand that being authentic is one of the greatest assets you
can have as an influencer. In a world where everyone is trying to be like everybody else, it’s a
breath of fresh air to come across those people who are themselves regardless of where they
are. Strive to be the example of what your truth, message and inner voice are collectively
saying. The more you stay aligned with who you really are, the more you’ll feel liberated and
confident to express yourself without fear.
PSI: Thank you for the thoughtful responses. We agree heartily. Authenticity in self-expression
is for anyone looking to communicate effectively.
Throughout June, we’ve explored authenticity and how it matters for leadership and communication. In July, expect conversation around the importance of Speaking Up.