Top 7 Ways to Become Highly Credible With Your Audience
By Bill Lampton, Ph.D.
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Suppose you received an invitation to a speaking event that featured John Edwards talking about "Maintaining Fidelity in Your Marriage," Lada Gaga offering advice on "Appropriate Attire for the Office," Bernie Madoff describing "My Best Investment Advice," or Anthony Weiner explaining "How to Talk With the Opposite Gender on the Internet." Would you attend? No, because these four individuals have demonstrated the opposite of what they would be talking about. Clearly, as Aristotle advised long ago, the speaker's credibility may be the most important ingredient in the persuasive process. So let's consider how we can gain and sustain high credibility when we speak.
- Have Your Introducer Mention Key Factors
Your host will elevate your image by saying "She has earned the right to offer advice about entrepreneurship, because her company reached $5 million in sales just two years after she began," or "He gained widespread recognition for his groundbreaking book about the U.S. prison system, and probably you have seen him interviewed on the major TV networks." Be sure to provide your introducer with the comments you want included--and bring an extra copy of the introduction with you in case your host forgets the original.
- Meet and Talk With Audience Members Ahead of Time
Even a one-minute conversation will stimulate your image as a new friend, assuming of course that you convey genuine warmth as you converse. Consider this possibility: The stronger the credentials you bring to the group, the more necessary it may be for you to generate personal contact prior to mounting the stage.
- Quote Widely Recognized Authorities on Your Topic
Example: In a speech about outstanding leaders, you could include comments from Jack Welch of General Electric, Louis Gerstner, Jr. of IBM, and Indra Nooi of PepsiCo. Illustrating that you are familiar with the best practices of these leaders enhances your topic authority. To some degree, you are building your credibility by association.
- Be Accurate With Your Facts
Suppose you were speaking to your annual stockholder meeting. You meant to say that profits for the previous quarter declined twenty percent, yet you mistakenly said twelve percent. Most likely, this well-informed group will know you have given the wrong information. Naturally, listeners will wonder why--an accident, or a cover up? Even one wrong statement could weaken the trust the group has placed in you.
- Answer Difficult Questions Without "Bridging"
Bridging occurs when somebody dodges the question and switches the focus to a safer topic. Example: Imagine a politician during the question and answer period responding to "What do you think we should do about the nation's debt ceiling?" with "You know, states are having economic struggles, too, and I want to talk about how I helped our state legislature put us back in the black after years of deficits." Audiences spot diversions quickly, and will either lose interest or become combative.
- Maintain Emotional Stability
You may remember how instantly esteem for 2004 presidential candidate Howard Dean plummeted following his "Dream Scream" speech in West Des Moines Iowa--making him the brunt of late night comics and imitators. Certainly an effective speaker conveys emotion, yet recognizes boundaries she cannot go beyond.
- Demonstrate Good Taste
Treat your audience with unbroken respect. A relevant warning: including off-color jokes, sarcastic mimicking of races or nationalities, discussion of bodily functions, slams against religion, and unpatriotic remarks will separate you from your audience quickly—and probably permanently.
Bill Lampton, Ph.D., "Speech Coach for Champions," helps clients speak with "poise, power, and persuasion," so they will generate "attention, agreement, and action." His top-tier client list includes Gillette, Duracell, Procter and Gamble, Ritz-Carlton Cancun, and Celebrity Cruises. Visit his Web site to sign up for his complimentary online newsletter: http://tinyurl.com/otlcgz. Call him: 678-316-4300 Visit his Facebook business page: [http://bit.ly/k69F5C].
Article Submitted On: June 23, 2011