7 ways to build your credibility
by Catherine Ahern
At the American Speaker blog, we’ve shared advice about how to avoid undermining your credibility. It’s also a great idea to consistently work on building your credibility, because if people trust and respect you, they are more likely to support your cause. If your audience doesn’t know you—or if recent events have made your listeners doubt you—take these steps to boost your credibility:
- Deliver what you promise. Fail to meet audience members’ expectations just once and you could lose their support forever. They will stop trusting you, and they won’t take to heart anything you say.
- Become an expert on your subject matter. If you don’t know what you are talking about, it will show. You won’t be believable, or you’ll appear incompetent or unknowledgeable. Either way, you’re audience won’t buy in to what you are saying.
- Mingle with audience members before your presentation. Take a few minutes to introduce yourself, shake hands and ask them questions about themselves. You’ll gain valuable insight about their backgrounds, needs and interest in your topic. Plus, you will build their confidence in you, because people tend to trust those with whom they feel a connection.
- Watch your body language. Be conscious of your posture. Stand tall with your back erect. Center your weight evenly between your legs; don’t lean or stick your hip out. Smile and make eye contact. Match your gestures and head movements with your words. Example: If you are saying “Yes,” make sure you don’t unconsciously shake your head “No,” which can signal that you are lying.Note: Because you may be exhibiting body language cues unconsciously or out of habit, it’s beneficial to record yourself speaking. Watch the video, and analyze your posture and movements to see if you are sending negative cues to your audience. Then make the necessary adjustments before you present again. (Read more ways to project credibility through body language on the Nitpickers’ Nookblog.)
- Admit mistakes—sometimes. If you flubbed an important fact or a key piece of data, correct yourself, but don’t dwell on it. However, if your error is an insignificant one that doesn’t affect your core message, don’t bother acknowledging it. Interrupting yourself to correct something minor will just distract your audience and disrupt your momentum. If an audience member points out a mistake, be gracious and thank the person. Contrary to what you might assume, your audience members will trust—and like—you more if they see you as a normal, fallible human being. (I wrote an American Speaker Forum about recovering from mistakes earlier this year. You can find that issue on the Workplace Survival blog.)
- Be enthusiastic. If you aren’t passionate about what you are saying, you won’t move your audience. In addition, if your listeners don’t think you’ve bought in to your message, they won’t buy in to it either. However, if you are excited, your enthusiasm will spread to them.
- Be true to yourself. It’s useful to get ideas from other presenters, but don’t attempt to copy the style of someone whose personality is different from your own—no matter how successful that person is. That could cause you to appear stilted and insincere to your audience. Your listeners are more likely to trust you if you appear confident and comfortable in your own skin.Find ways to adapt the advice above so that it feels natural to you. Example: Being “enthusiastic” will look different for different speakers. You don’t have to mimic the fervent style of Tony Robbins if that feels unnatural to you. Instead, reflect on how you show your enthusiasm genuinely, such as how you act when watching your favorite sports teams play. Then adapt that kind of authentic enthusiasm to your presentations.
Your Guide to Successful Speaking
American Speaker is an easy-to-use electronic resource that gives you everything you need for preparing top-notch speeches. These monthly updates will show you tips and techniques to hone your presentation skills. Let’s take a look at a few now:
- Use body language to your advantage.
- Handle a heckler with poise and grace.
- Know the best one-liners that work like a charm.
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