“Just be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

– Source unknown (often misattributed to Oscar Wilde)

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.”

– Popularized by Oscar Wilde; originally by Charles Caleb Colton, 1820

 These two quotes sum up the duality of becoming a better public speaker.

The second quote is especially notable because it’s usually truncated to just the first half, which contradicts its intended meaning. The conclusion of the sentence makes the point: those who simply imitate others, with no originality of their own, reveal their mediocrity — as opposed to others’ greatness.

There are universal aspects of effective communication you can observe in skilled speakers; you’ll want to adopt many of those skills yourself. But beware of copying “signature” aspects of others’ delivery. Here’s my suggestion:

Watch what other speakers do

And figure out what works for you.

But make it your own; don’t be a clone.

 Over time, you’ll develop a special, differentiated way of communicating: a recognizable style that’s all your own, as unique as your fingerprint, or the pattern in the iris of your eye.

“Just be yourself, there is no one better.”

– Taylor Swift