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How To Establish Credibility In A Speech: Advice From A TEDx Speaker Coach

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Have you ever heard the saying people buy from people they like?

Well, the truth is people buy from people they trust. And whether you’re selling a product or an idea, a concept, a solution—trust is essential to any relationship.

So stay tuned when we uncover seven tips on how to establish credibility—next on Moxie Talk.

How To Establish Credibility In A Speech

Hey everyone, I’m Fia Fasbinder. Welcome to Moxie Talk where we help you find your voice, share your message, and lead with confidence.

Today we’re talking about ways to establish credibility in a speech with an audience.

Now I want to start with one of my favorite studies and if you’ve watched several of my youtube videos, you know I love this study and this study is called the Mehrabian study and it was done out of Stanford University.

In this study, they looked at an audience’s perception of a speaker’s credibility and they measured it on three things—

  • The tone of voice,
  • Body language, and
  • Content.

The numbers are pretty astounding. Actually,

Your Perceived Speaker Credibility

55 % Body Language

55 % of an audience’s perception of a speaker’s credibility is based on body language—I think you’re credible because you look credible.

38 % Tone Of Voice

38 % of a speaker’s credibility is based on the tone of voice—I think you’re credible because you sound credible.

7 % Content

Only 7 % is based on content. This is not to say that your content is unimportant. Your content is the foundation of anything you say. This just means that the way you deliver your content can absolutely undermine or amplify your message of credibility.

We’re going to start with some techniques to establish speaker credibility and trust that actually have to do with that foundation—that have to do with the content, and then we’ll move on to some techniques on how you deliver that content.

Show You Care Before Credentials

So we’re going to start with the saying that I love which is—nobody cares what you know until they know that you care.

What does that mean? That means that if you are like many of my clients before they’ve worked with Moxie that think that the best way to establish credibility in a speech is to lead in with all of your degrees, accolades, merits, credentials, all the letters following your name and this will make your audience trust you.

You are absolutely incorrect!

Audiences do not trust you because of where you went first to school. This is a really nice thing to help them establish speaker credibility in you, but it does not make them trust you.

I always ask these people, “If you were sitting in your dentist chair and your dentist was about to drill into your mouth, would you trust them if they started rambling off what dental school they went to and the degrees they had?”

Absolutely not! We trust people because we feel like they understand us, they’ve got our back & we’ve got their back, and we are going to help them.

So if you should not lead with all of your accolades, merits, and credentials, what should you lead with?

Well, I really think a good story that shows that you can put yourself in the audience’s shoes—that you have walked a mile in their shoes, that you understand, them that you get them—this is much better than leading with your credentials anytime.

Your credentials are super important. If you’re a doctor, if you’re a Ph.D., if you’re a scientist—you’ve worked really hard to earn all of those credentials. You should absolutely tell your audience about them. Just don’t lead with them.

You’re going to lead with something that will let them know that you are in their shoes. Don’t lead with the credentials, follow with them. That’s tip number 1.

Give In Order To Receive

Tip number 2 is what we call

The Law of Reciprocity

Which means that if you want your audience to give you their trust then you need to give them something back. You need to earn their trust. What are you going to give them first that will make them give you their trust?

If you’re thinking, I have no idea what I could give them!

What you can give them that will really help them trust you is solving a problem that they have—a solution, a problem, a concept.

One of my favorite questions in audience analysis is

What keeps this audience up at night?

If you can answer that and then you can give them some kind of tip or solution and idea to help them solve this problem that keeps them up at night, I guarantee you you will earn their trust. That is tip number 2.

Solve The Problem

Tip number 3, along the same line, is this idea of solving problems.

Most of us think about our keynotes or our presentations are just an opportunity to give information. But what we’re really there to do is to solve a problem.

Start to think about your keynotes and your presentations not just as an opportunity to give information but an opportunity to influence and persuade your audience to see this information in a new way. If you can structure your content in this way that shows the situation or the complication and then your idea or concept to solve this—to remedy it, to resolve it—then you will absolutely establish speaker credibility and trust.

I know this is difficult. Most of us are not used to structuring our presentations in a way that gives solutions to problems and I know it takes some noodling. But I guarantee you it will absolutely establish you as a subject matter expert in that field.

I recently worked with a team and their finance person told me that, “I’m just there to give the numbers.”

And once she said this, I was looking at her, the stakeholder, her boss, who his eyes just rolled and he said to her right there in front of everyone,

“You’re not just there to give the numbers. You’re there to tell a story with the numbers.”

What are those numbers telling us? What should we do with those numbers? How should we change because of those numbers?

If she starts to structure her presentations as helping us understand what those numbers mean and what we can do about it, she will absolutely establish credibility in a speech to anyone. That’s number 3 — try to solve problems.

How To Establish Credibility In A Speech: Don’t Be A Know-It-All

Number 4 is don’t be a know-it-all.

I have a favorite saying which is: “The difference between a subject matter expert and a know-it-all is that a subject matter expert has been in your shoes, has found a solution to those problems, and is going to share the lessons they learned and the information with you. A know-it-all is just somebody that’s successful and, you know has, all this money and these answers and status and promotion and they’re not showing you a good business. They’re not showing you the lessons and how you can get there too.

This is why you want to avoid being a know-it-all by letting your audience know that you have been in their situation, you have been in their shoes, you have learned something from that experience and you can’t wait to share it with them.

That’s really important to make sure that you are establishing trust—Let them know that you have learned lessons and you are going to share those lessons with them, even if you’re the finance person, right? I crunch the numbers and I learn something from these lessons and I want to share them with you. That is number 4 — don’t be a know-it-all.

Bring Warmth And Passion To Your Voice

Number 5 has to do—we’re going back to that Mehrabian study—We’ve talked about some ways to structure your content to establish credibility in your speech. Now we’re going to talk about some ways that you can deliver that content so that you make sure you are establishing credibility in a speech by how you speak.

The first has to do with your voice. Now we learned in that study that 38% of a speaker’s credibility is based on the tone of voice so—What can you do with your voice to establish credibility?

If you can think about voices that you trust, they’re probably warm voices, right? They are voices that make us feel good. Whether it’s a mother’s voice, or sometimes I’ll tell people Mr. Roger’s voice, if you’re of my generation—you don’t want it to be a cheesy voice.

If you can have a vocal quality and bring some warmth to your voice, some joy to your voice, some passion to your voice, then you will absolutely establish trust with your audience.

Think about it this way—Have you ever been sitting through a presentation where somebody has a very cold, stern, monotone voice? Are you warming up to them? Do you trust them? Probably not!

Have you ever sat through a presentation where somebody mumbles? Or somebody uses filler words like so, or um? They might be a subject matter expert. They might have 12 PhDs. But just because they are using filler words or they are mumbling, they lack speaker credibility in our eyes.

So make sure both your tone of voice is warm, passionate, enthusiastic, and that you’re eliminating filler words and you’re speaking clearly. This is a great way to make sure that you gain 38% of your audience’s credibility and trust through your tone of voice.

Tone of Voice Tips

Speak with warmth/passion

Avoid filler words like “UMM”

Adopt Open Body Language

Let’s move on to the 55% which was body language. We are establishing trust with our bodies. How can we do that? A couple of ways! When people are nervous—speakers, anyone—we get small. The problem with that is that when we get small, we are showing an audience that we are nervous.

All of the studies show that when we open our bodies up, when we maximize the space our bodies take up in a room by opening our chest and standing tall, it shows an audience that we are confident. And when we are confident, our audience mirrors that confidence and they feel confident in us.

Now this idea for open expansive body language came from Amy Cuddy. If you have never watched Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk, I highly suggest it.

In this Ted Talk, she talks about power poses. And without spoiling the Ted Talk for you—if you haven’t seen it, the main idea is that minor tweaks to our body language not only change how we feel about ourselves but change how people perceive us.

So by slightly opening your body language up so that you are expansive and you are confident and you are grounded, your audience will trust you and they will see that you’re excited to be there and you’re not nervous. Even if you are, they won’t know because you’re not showing it and this will establish speaker credibility.

There you go—seven techniques on how to establish credibility in a speech with your audience. Whether you’re giving a boardroom meeting, a town hall meeting, a keynote, or even a one-on-one.

I hope that these techniques helped you learn how to be trustworthy and establish subject matter expertise in all of your communications.

I cannot wait to see you on Moxie Talk’s next blog and if you loved this blog be sure to share it with friends and subscribe to our newsletter and YouTube channel and watch our videos. We have a ton of videos on several interesting topics related to keynoting and giving presentations —it’s all there.

If you want more information about how Moxie can help you master your fear then check out our fear of public speaking training page or book a call.

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