Building Speaker Credibility

WHEN YOU MAKE A POINT, major or minor back it up with support sources that will give it credibility. Such support sources have the power to add weigh and authority to what you’re saying.

You might assert, “The environment today is in bad shape.” Well, that’s a very general point. What you want to do is drill down-using specifics-to add credibility to your statement. Instead, you might say, “The environment today is in bad shape compared with where it was thirty years ago; in fact, in a two-year study published in the June 2007 Journal of Environmental Resources, Dr. Irving Smith, a climatologist at Harvard University, found that . . . “

Now you’ve just given the point you made some credibility: you cited a study, who the author was, his academic affiliation, the name of the journal in which his study was published, and which issue of the journal it came from.

This is not dissimilar to a court of law, in which an attorney makes a point and then has to bolster his arguments by either producing some kind of substantiated documentation or getting somebody up on the witness stand to support his side of the case. The whole rationale behind this is that reasonable doubt has to be dissolved.

The same goes for you in your presentation: you need to dissolve whatever reasonable doubt might creep into the minds of your audience by supporting the point you’re making with solid evidence.

Giving examples of what you’re talking about lends credibility to your presentation, as does citing facts, figures, and statistics. Incorporating visual aids that show statistical breakdowns over time, pie charts, and illustrations (a picture is worth a thousand words) can all be enormously helpful in substantiating your points as well. Even defining a word can aid in clarification or in supporting your argument. I happen to love the use of stories to give weight to points being made, because stories are examples of your personal experience-you were there and you went through it.

Testimonials and analogies, used wisely, can also give weight to your words, while the usage of historical background can be an effective means of bridging time and supporting your position. “Ladies and gentleman, this has been proven true by history time and time again. I’ll give you an example: back two hundred-some years ago . . . ” It’s also appropriate to cite an authority or use a noteworthy quote to show by reference that the point you’re making is supported by something (or someone) of substance.

Once you’ve established your credibility, you’ve got yourself a full and complete performance-one that will establish you as an authority and motivate your audience to your call to action.


To Your Speaking Success!  

Joe Yazbeck

International Speaker & Coach

Author, Best-Seller, No Fear Speaking