How to be a Credible Presenter
So what does it take to be credible?
Confident Courageous Likeability!
We all want to be regarded as credible when presenting. Without the credibility factor the engagement level will be low.
Do you need to hand round copies of all your certificates - including your birth one? Maybe you need to spend the first 5 minutes listing (with power-point) all your business history and achievements?
Credibility is in many ways a ‘feeling’ that people have about you - no amount of certification will outweigh a feeling of ‘not quite sure about this person’.
For the purposes of this short article, we start from a point of assuming the information you are presenting is relevant and informed and well structured. Now we just need to figure out what it is you have to do in order to trigger that engaged and trusting feeling in your audience.
The answer lies in 2 qualities that you as the presenter need to demonstrate having set the crucial foundation stones of why’ and ‘likeability’. Confidence and Courage.
Foundation stones first
We might as well get Simon Sinek in here! Part of me thinks I wish I had written that book and done that Ted Talk! But - he did - and he did it very well.
If you are not familiar with his work - it is all about starting with WHY. Simple - yet so powerful. Here is the ‘golden circle’.
In a nutshell and applied to presenting:
Instead of starting with ‘WHAT’ and ‘HOW’ start with WHY.
You need to work from the inside out.
When you are presenting you need to start by knowing the point of the presentation and why the audience should be motivated to listen (WHY). You don’t need to start with the tangible facts and figures (WHAT) or the plan of action (HOW).
How does this help credibility?
If you make it clear to the audience that you know what matters to them and there is a value to them in what you are about to communicate - you have ticked the first credibility box - you are not going to waste their time and you ‘get it’.
You need to really understand your audience - this is so crucial I can’t shout about it enough!
There is no way you are going to come across as credible - however informed your content - if you have failed to take the time to think about who you are communicating this content to. Ask the following questions about your audience:
BEWARE! There is a way of getting all your credibility ticks erased - which brings us to the next foundation stone.
This is not as simple as it sounds. However - you are probably very likeable in your everyday life! Now you just need to remember that you are still you when you are presenting. The more authentic you are the more likable. Do not become someone else the minute you go into presentation mode.
Many people fail to reinforce the qualities that work so well for them in their personal lives—friendliness, warmth, humorr, energy, justified pride, sincerity, interest, and enthusiasm—which are what create rapport with others and draw people to them. These characteristics, when combined with substance, are essential to making a memorable impression.’ Peggy Klaus
But you are in a work situation - not sat on the sofa chatting to your mates - so of course there is an adjustment - just not too much. For instance, don’t overdo the rapport building/respect stuff - there is a fine line between being likeable and being a people pleaser?
The last thing you want to focus on if you are aiming for credibility is pleasing everyone just for the sake of being liked!
For the sake of brevity I will sum up the ingredients of likability in the context of credibility as:
So we have the foundation stones in place - now let’s build the credibility by adding these quality bricks: Confidence and Courage. I will keep this brief - there will no doubt be a detailed dive into each one of these in future articles.
What the heck is confidence?
Well whatever it is - it shows in more ways than you might realise. It shows in our voice for a start.
‘When we’re feeling brave and confident, our vocal pitch and amplitude are significantly more varied, allowing us to sound expressive and relaxed. When we fearfully hold back - activating the sympathetic nervous system’s fight-or-flight response - our vocal cords and diaphragms constrict, strangling our genuine enthusiasm.’ Amy Cuddy
It also shows in your body language - even if this is quite subtle. There is a certain energy that you feel from a confident person presenting - and energy is catching!
What confidence is not: Cocky and loud.
What confidence is: Competence felt internally and communicated externally
This quote covers both courage and consistency.
Integrity (closely related to credibility) is ‘being congruent inside and out. It’s having the courage to act in accordance with your values and beliefs.’ Stephen Covey
Courage in the context of being credible means standing strong on what you believe. There is a danger that we might be a bit wishy-washy about stating opinions - just in case they disagree.
Nobody is suggesting you are contentious for the sake of it - or that you totally dismiss the perspective of those you are presenting to. However, the course of action you are proposing is backed up by solid insight and experience, your audience will respect you and be inspired by a firm opinion.
If they just wanted a list of facts and data they could get it in an email attachment.
They want to hear someone who has thought about those facts and applied them to the situation in a way that goes beyond the obvious.
To sum up
If you want to have your audience engaged and inspired by your presentation you need to tick the following boxes:
Enjoy the experience (that will help too!)