Whether you like it or not, as a public speaker, your message is inseparable from the person delivering it (you!)
First impressions count, and if audiences don’t trust you from the outset, then they won’t even take on board what you’re saying, no matter how valuable or insightful it may be.
In other words, you could have prepared the best speech in the world, but if you don’t come across as a credible source, it won’t matter.
So, how can you make sure that audiences see you as a credible on-stage persona? Here are some of my tips for establishing credibility from the moment you take your first step on stage.
#1: Set the Tone with Your Self Presentation
There are several ways to build rapport and respect from an audience, and they almost all derive from how you set the tone with your self presentation. But what does that mean in practical terms?
Firstly, you need to look the part. I’ve already talked about the vital importance of dressing for speaking success. It’s incredible how just a simple change of attire can completely alter an audience’s perception of you. So make sure you dress appropriately for the occasion. Note that doesn’t always mean as smart as possible – match the audience.
Next, make sure you are speaking loudly, clearly, and confidently. Make eye contact with audience members, even if you are reading from cue cards or a prepared script, making eye contact maintains that engagement and trust with the audience.
Another helpful tip is to move across the stage rather than becoming rigid and static in one spot. Even if you have a PowerPoint presentation to aid your speech, moving closer to the audience and engaging with them periodically can dramatically improve trustworthiness and credibility.
#2: Establish Authority
While how you present yourself and carry yourself is vital to your on-stage credibility, so is your ability to establish your authority. After all, why should your audience listen to what you have to say or someone else in your niche? What makes you qualified to deliver the insights you are about to give?
As much as you might have wanted your audience members to have researched you beforehand, the burden of proof is on you and you alone. Early in your speech, you need to go over your experience, extensive training and/or qualifications, or perhaps any original research you’ve carried out in your field.
Demonstrate you know what you’re talking about by bringing in outside sources that can speak to your expertise. Lastly, put your authority in the context of your wider industry. How does your perspective on your specific niche fit in with what other movers and shakers in your industry are saying?
#3: Find Common Ground
Skeptical audiences will need to be won over before they start trusting what you have to say. The best way to break down those imaginary barriers they’ve erected is to find common ground. Appeal to values and beliefs that you all share and identify problems they might be experiencing or questions they might need answering.
Audience members skeptical of what you have to say are usually that way inclined because they hold onto a specific opinion or belief. So one of the best ways to win them over is to acknowledge that viewpoint, recognize its legitimacy and its merits, and confidently explain why you have arrived at a different conclusion (referring back to your evidence, experience, etc.) or position on the chosen subject.
If you dismiss opposing views, you will lose skeptical audience members right there and then, and they will switch off for the rest of your speech.
Without On-Stage Credibility, You Will Lose Your Audience
While consistency and clarity can sell you as a speaker to planners, once you’re on-stage, you need to establish credibility quickly and effectively to have any chance of success in the speaking business.
From delivering your speech with confidence and looking the part to finding common ground and winning over the skeptics, there is a range of methods you can use to make an immediate positive impression on your audience. By implementing the above strategies into your speech delivery, you can ensure you deliver a winning speech, time after time.
These are just a few tips out of many that speakers share in our private Facebook group – Grow Your Speaking Biz. It’s an incredible online community filled with speakers from various niches and experience levels, all helping each other on their journey to building a successful speaking business.
Or why not secure your next speaking gig using our exclusive list of speaking leads as part of the Charli Jane Speakers Club?
Meet Wendi McNeill
As the Founder and Owner of Charli Jane Speaker Services®, Wendi has been “Opening Doors of Opportunity” for speakers since 2002.
Charli Jane Speakers provides speakers with support, exposure, tools, tips, speaking and media leads, coaching/learning programs, and much more to assist them in growing their speaking business.
When it comes to Wendi’s clients she is very passionate and laser-focused about how they can grow their speaking business to levels of great success and fulfillment. They work together on strategies to quickly & easily position them as the top expert in their subject matter.
The results are success, financial freedom, and limitless lifestyle choices. Her primary objective is to help speakers/experts properly position themselves so they can get found easily, fill their speaking schedule and increase their income to incredible levels. Also, through the development of multiple streams of income, her clients learn how to rely on more than speaking fees alone to sustain their businesses.
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