Walking downhill from the Grand Hyatt Seoul, my colleague Mary Ann and I can hear a local merchant shouting, “Genuine imitation!” This oxymoron has us chuckling. Namdaemun, Korea’s largest traditional market is bustling. Local products, sundries and food. And, yes, genuine imitations of designer brand purses, watches, shoes, etc. Aside from obvious issues associated with knockoff (fake) goods, the smiling hawker’s sales pitch still echoes in my mind a dozen years later. It hits close to home.
I am passionate about persuasive communication. Persuasion is becoming a lost art. In part due to communicators who rather than applying principles that underlie other speakers’ success opt to imitate mannerisms, style and attire.
Presenters emulate Steve Jobs. Litigators mimic Alan Shore. Bloggers try to be Seth Godin. Genuine imitation.
While Charles Caleb Colton famously said, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” such might get you sued. And from a persuasion perspective, “Imitation is suicide.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson. Far too many are succumbing. Their audiences and prospects are unpersuaded.
At the threshold of persuasion is demonstrating one’s ethos. Character. Likeability. Trust. Few people like, much less trust, fakes.
We must be real, authentic and sincere. Imitation is none of that.
Add optimism and a sense of humor, people will want to listen to you.
Steve Jobs excelled at presenting because he was passionate, visionary, a masterful storyteller. It wasn’t the black turtle neck and jeans.
James Spader’s Boston Legal character was poignant, eloquent and to the point. In spite of his cocky mannerisms and indignant stares.
Godin personifies practicality and relevance. Shaving your head and sporting colorful eyeglasses won’t make you that.
Show passion, hone your storytelling, persist in being relevant. But let Jobs, Shore and Godin be them. One’s deceased and another is not even real – a make-believe television character.
Most importantly, your own signature authenticity and energy are unmatched.