Credibility. When others have it, it gives us the confidence to accept what they have to say. Speaker credibility is what ultimately will help you influence your audience and get them to take action.
But what is credibility and how can a person go about getting some?
Credibility is all about trust. When you’re credible, people trust your knowledge, your judgement, your message. Credible speakers have a far easier time “selling” their ideas.
Credibility, however, is something that has to be earned, and takes time, patience, and consistency to build.
If you don’t currently have speaker credibility, here are some ways to get it.
Strengthen Your Character
Think of the people in your life that you have deeply trusted. Chances are they all have one thing in common: they have strong character.
People with strong character have core values they simply won’t waver on. They stand up for what they believe in, even if that belief goes against “group think.” To build and strengthen your own character, take some time to get to know yourself better. What do you care about the most?
Equally important is making sure you are a person with integrity. When you make choices, are they for the right reasons? When you make mistakes, do you own up to them and correct them? When you make a commitment, do you follow through?
Get Some Expertise
Your audience members want to learn from someone who has legitimate expertise. The more expertise you have, the greater your credibility.
Building expertise is not just about obtaining more knowledge, it’s about focusing on a single area or topic that is fundamentally important to your organization or industry. For instance, if you are a media buyer, you could focus on the efficacy of print advertising.
It should go without saying that being an expert means staying up-to-date on your industry, trends, and developments.
It’s also important to acknowledge what you don’t know. As I’ve just mentioned, it’s beneficial to gain expertise in one particular area of your field. This means there will be plenty of information that is not readily at your disposal. So, if you want to remain credible, never pretend or guess an answer that is outside your expertise. Giving false information is a surefire way to undermine your credibility and your reputation.
A final thought on being an expert: it’s important you communicate your expertise in such a way that others never see you as arrogant or a know-it-all. Always be humble when talking about your breadth of knowledge and your accomplishments.
Be Authentic and Transparent
When you are 100% authentic and honest, others don’t have to wonder what your intentions or motivations are. You can inspire trust in your audience when you talk openly about your values and objectives.
A great way to create transparency is to reveal information about yourself to your audience. One study found that college professors who shared personal information with their students were perceived as more credible than those who didn’t.
Respect Your Audience
Many presenters spend so much time focusing on what the audience is going to think of them, they neglect to realize they will have feelings for their audience as well. And these feelings will come across. It’s important to remember that you may not always agree with audience members and may very much want to change how they think about your topic. But you should always be mindful to respect your audience.
Identify and Align with the Listeners’ Values
You may not only want to change your audience’s mind about something, you may want to change their values as well. While you could simply tell them their values are all wrong, this will do very little to help your credibility or influence your listeners.
Instead, show people that the changes you are proposing, the new values you are hoping your listeners adopt, affirm or advance the values they already hold.
Use Credible Data and Evidence
Each audience you speak to may require specific arguments, data, or research to be swayed to embrace your message. Facts, figures, resected authorities, charts and graphs all have differing degrees of credibility. Do some homework on your audience to determine what evidence they will most likely find credible.
Embody Your Message
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Be the change you want to see.” Presenters would do well to follow a similar piece of advice: “Be the message you want them to hear.” Speakers that embody their message will reinforce their credibility. Everything about you, your knowledge, character, values and experience should align with your message.
What’s the real difference between good and great speakers? The great ones have credibility.