Comedian Louie Anderson, a sizeable man, stood behind the microphone stand until the audience was silent. Then, he waited a few more moments — until they were uncomfortable.

“Let me move this,” he said, shoving the microphone stand off to the side, “so that you can see me.”

It killed. You could feel the sense of relief in the room. He had them.

You can’t hide

Whether you're on stage in a comedy club or in the middle of a sales presentation, the spotlight is on you, and your audience can see right through you.

If you're not genuine, confident in yourself and passionate in what you're selling, you'll lose control of the room and lose the sale. You'll get eaten alive.

Be genuine

Louie’s charm comes from his self-deprecating humor. He’s relatable. And that works. It can work for you too because people are attracted to authenticity and turned off by imposters. We're all more likely to do business and build relationships with people we like. We're naturally drawn to people who are genuine, friendly, agreeable, and kind.

And it’s important to note that authentic people don't mind the occasional situation when they’re not at their best. In fact, people tend to respect them more for that. When you’re true to yourself, people don't laugh at you — they laugh with you.

Find yourself

As salespeople, we have to be ourselves because customers know when they are being duped. You can't hide it. You'll probably struggle at first; we all do. But then gradually you'll find yourself, your sweet spot.

There will be moments when everything goes well. You connect perfectly to close a deal with a new investor. When that happens, try to remember what worked. Likely, you were simply being yourself.

Make it your own

If you’re asked to use a script to sell a product, try to make it your own. Read it in your head a few times. Then read it aloud while recording it into your smart phone. It could be about your firm, the approach that you take as a financial professional, or an elevator pitch.

Replay the audio. What words or phrases work for you and which ones don’t?  If there’s anything that you feel uncomfortable saying, then cross it out and replace it with words or phrases that resonate with you. As long as the framework, meaning and integrity of the script stay intact, you’re good to go. I bet your results will be better, too.

Being yourself takes a lot of practice

“Amateurs rehearse until they get it right,” explained Michael Port in his book, Steal the Show, “but a professional will rehearse until they can’t get it wrong.”

Port explained that financial professionals will often say they don't like to rehearse because they think it makes them stiff – that they're more effective if they're just winging it, and they've tried rehearsal and it doesn't work.

However, Port added, “if you've done enough rehearsal that you can ‘forget everything you worked on, so that you can allow it to come to you naturally in the moment, then you have authentic spontaneity. To the audience it feels like it's happening for them for the very first time.”

As you rehearse, make the script your own. Use your own words, timing and gestures.  You could recite the original script word for word, but if you make it your own, you may be able to make a better connection with your prospects, which should lead to more sales.

The most successful comedians and salespeople are able to take an idea and wrap their personality around it. Don’t lose the tone of the message, but memorizing and repeating lines won’t win you more business.

Be original

Add a little bit of yourself to your sales story at a time. Substitute a few words until you feel comfortable, and then add a few more.

Over time, you will get better reading your prospects and customers. You will learn to make adjustments and, ultimately, you will become an excellent presenter and communicator.

5 steps to crafting more effective sales scripts:

  1. Edit or revise. If you come across a word you don’t like, replace it with one that feels like your own.  Grab a thesaurus and find a better option.
  2. Rehearse. Rehearse your new presentation until it sounds and feels like your own. Read it in front of a mirror or slide pieces of it into casual conversation with family, friends or your Uber driver.
  3. Seek feedback from those who know you best. Ask your spouse or a close friend to list your top and bottom three mannerisms. What would be most likely to endear you to a prospect? And, what would be mostly likely to turn them off? Also, have your friends or children track the number of times you say the words “and,” “uh,” and “you know.”
  4. Role play (or not) – whatever works for you. Some advisors prefer to do a full-on role play of a scenario. Find a system that works best for you.
  5. Tap your colleagues for feedback. Get a group of co-workers together for a lunch time rehearsal. Provide food, beverages or enticements to get them to sit long enough to provide feedback for a 15-minute version of your presentation.
Surprisingly, being genuine can take practice, but it’s well worth the effort because you’re likely to be at your very best when you’re simply being yourself.

David Goldman works with financial professions on sales and presentation strategies through his firm, The Laughing Stockbroker.