Your credibility as a speaker is a factor of whether or not your audience can trust you. If trust is a must, how do you maintain your ethics as a speaker and build trust simultaneously?
Use the power of story to connect with your audience
It is hard for your audience to listen to your talk if they do not trust you. In order to gain their trust, they need to know something about your background that makes you credible to speak on your topic. Factors that make you credible to speak include your position in a company, society and within your own business. Your level of qualification, past experience and research conducted in a particular field also enhances your credibility. There is something about your life, the challenges you have overcome and the solution you have to share that makes you ideal to speak on your topic. Once you identify this and share it with your audience, they can begin to connect their life with yours. They see you as ‘one of them’ and they start to like and trust you.
Build trust with the audience through interaction
Your audience does not want to be ‘lectured to’. Instead, they crave engagement. During your talk, ask them to ‘show their hands’ or ‘say a word’ or ‘type in the chatbox’ or ‘repeat after me’ Ask the audience specific open-ended questions. Get the audience to reflect and think about the content they have just listened to. Ask a random number of people to share their reflections with the group. Break up the group into smaller teams and ask the groups to discuss the content among themselves. Once the smaller groups rejoin the main meeting, invite the audience to a general round of discussion and Q&A.
Hold back your judgement and assumptions
Every audience will have ‘that person’ who says or does something that could throw you off balance and lose your credibility with the audience – credibility and trust that you have worked so hard for. This could come in the form of a tough question that seems to ‘test you and your ability’ or it could come in the form of rude behaviour like bringing up content that is unrelated to your talk.
As a speaker, remember to continue to remain calm and composed. Your body gestures, facial expressions, tonality, choice of words and pace of speaking are all being observed. Hold off your judgement and assumptions of the individual and shift to curiosity. Say, ‘That is an unusual question, could you provide me with more context?’ Dealing with bad behaviour in front of a group can be tough and varies depending on the situation. The general advice is to ask the person to speak to you separately after the talk to address their concerns. Remind the group of the objective of your talk. Set up group rules, boundaries and expectations at the beginning of your talk also help to keep the group and each other in check during your talk.
To sum up
- Avoid presenting yourself as being too perfect.
- Share ‘imperfections’: it connects you to your audience.
- Share your lessons learnt or solutions developed as a result of your challenges faced.
- Stay humble.
- Be respectful.