When it comes to public speaking and training, your credibility as a subject matter expert or person of knowledge in the area in which you speak really matters. Without credibility, you will struggle to have any impact or traction around your ideas.
Credibility relates directly to your trust, honesty, reputation, and ability to influence people. The more credible you are the more people will listen, trust, and learn from you.
Currently in the world of social media, disinformation, fake news, and politicians behaving badly, people are looking for credible and authentic sources of information. So how can you demonstrate credibility to the people you have before you.
Walk the talk
Walk the talk simply means that what you do is consistent with your message. Your actions, interactions, social media posts, and content that you create are all aligned and consistent with your message. We have all seen how influencers lose their credibility when they are discovered doing something that is contrary to what they have been talking about. Consistency of action leads to trust, inconsistency leads to distrust.
Presence and Non-Verbal credibility
The way you walk on stage, make eye contact, breathe, and communicate non-verbally can add to your credibility. Amy Cuddy in her book “Presence” talks about owning the space and being calmly present. People can still be present, credible and look confident, even if they are feeling nervous. So don’t let fear or nerves be a reason for you not to show great presence and nonverbal confidence. As Amy would say, “fake it until you become it”.
Connect and have rapport
It takes time and effort to connect and move into rapport with your audience. But once you establish rapport, people will be more engaged and prepared to listen to you. The mistake is that speakers and trainers go straight to the content and lecture or tell people what they should be doing. Rapport and connection can take some time and may require sharing some vulnerability, or a story that connects you to your audience. Then, when you’re in rapport, you can move on to content and new ideas and messages.
Credible sources of information and data
I often hear amazing claims around workforce retention, turnover, mental health, return on investments, and magical health cures, Covid 19 and when I ask where this data comes from, people are unable to quote a reputable source for their data. Or if they do have a source, it is from a post on social media or third hand from a friend. Please have a credible source if using data in your presentations or training.
A good track record
What do other people and other businesses say about you. Do you have positive comments on LinkedIn or other forums. Do you have testimonials that you can share. If you were applying for a job, we would check your record through your referees. People like proof and evidence that a speaker or trainer can have a positive impact on their staff or team and having a good track record really builds your credibility.
Along with your track record is your longevity or, the time in the industry or sector. How long have you been doing this? Generally, people who stay in an area of expertise for a long time will have deeper knowledge and a greater understanding of the topic they teach and speak about. There are those who flit from industry to industry and assume the mantle of expert, with little time in that sector. Malcolm Gladwell, in his book “Outliers,” suggested that true expertise and mastery come after 10,000 hours of practise, usually over a 10-year period. I am glad to say that I am now entering my 15th year of training and inspiring people to be great public speakers.
What do you have in your credibility toolbox? What do you need to add to enhance your credibility in the area that you speak or train about? Today, credibility is very important, as people are seeking to learn from reputable and trusted sources, and credibility is a key factor in this.