Let’s say that you are interested in pursuing a career in public speaking. Or maybe you have a presentation due in your public speaking class. Possibly you are a member of Toastmasters and you are scheduled to speak at your next meeting. Why should people listen to you? Why should others trust what you have to say? What makes you credible?
Establishing credibility is one of the most important qualifications for ensuring your success as a speaker. Zig Ziglar, internationally-renowned public speaker, salesperson, and writer, commands thousands of dollars to speak for 40-minutes. People flock to his presentations to hear his words of advice. What makes him so successful?
One of the reasons for his huge success is that he has established credibility. People believe what he has to say because they want to believe what he has to say. In public speaking, credibility is dependent on your audience’s perception of you as being qualified to speak on a particular subject. Just as in other types of business, your audience or your clientele must believe that you are knowledgeable in your field.
For Zig Ziglar to discuss the issues, causes, or high incidence of obesity in the US today is not going to be as credible as if you were to hear this information from the Surgeon General.
Likewise, were the Surgeon General to talk about the best kept secrets for increasing your business sales, I am confident you would not find the presentation to be one of the blockbusters on the public speaking circuit. Both individuals have established credibility, but credibility in their own fields.
If you are planning to give a presentation on a subject about which you have limited knowledge, you must research your topic. You need to know more than those in your audience; otherwise, there is no reason for them to listen to you. You would be better served listening to them!
Not only must you establish credibility; but, as a novice speaker, you need to do so in your opening statement. What is fascinating about this fact is that you needn’t necessarily have firsthand knowledge of or experience in your topic. You can easily establish credibility by quoting others, by means of interviews, by reading about your topic, and by gathering information, statistics, dates, and facts from legitimate sources. And don’t forget to use anecdotes as well.
Generally, the information you find in a library or in collegiate books is valid; but it is very important to understand that not everything you read on the internet is true. There is an entire generation of young people who were raised on the internet. Don’t trust everything you read on the web: you need to know whether the statements you are quoting or the sources from which you are gathering your information are reputable. And that can occur by knowing your sources.
If you want your audience to trust in you and in what you have to say, build your credibility, an important qualification in establishing your success in public speaking.