When you have a big presentation coming up, do you say to yourself:
“I must be knowledgeable.”
“I must be the expert on this topic.”
“I must be able to answer every question.”
The problem with these statements
The first is the use of the word “must”. This makes them into a demand – something that you must achieve. And demanding that you achieve something is likely to increase your nervousness.
Second, it’s difficult to know when you have achieved them. How do you know when you are knowledgeable enough? After all you can always gather more bits of knowledge. When do you achieve the status of expert? And there’s no way of guaranteeing that somebody won’t ask you a question you can’t answer. You will always have some element of doubt.
If you say these kinds of things to yourself, you may find yourself:
1. Researching far more than you need to before getting down to actually writing your presentation. Therefore you procrastinate on getting started, your prep time gets squeezed, and your actual presentation is not as good as it could be.
2. Staying up late in the days leading up to your presentation, researching the answers to all the questions you could possibly get asked.
What should you do instead?
Here’s what you audience wants – they want to listen to someone who is credible. They don’t want to waste their time listening to someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about. But being knowledgeable is only one route to credibility. Credibility and being knowledgeable are not synonymous.
How to be credible?
1. There’s that old saying that you only have to be one page ahead of your audience. I prefer to make it two pages, but the idea is sound, you just have to know a little more than the audience.
2. Be upfront about what you know and what you don’t know. My friend Deb was speaking at a conference for teachers of philosophy. She is not a philosopher and so was having serious issues about her credibility for speaking at the conference. I pointed out that for the particular topic she was speaking on there was no need for her to be a philosopher or even to talk about philosophy. Once she took on this mindshift, she even made some humour from it at the beginning of her presentation “We have three philosophers on our team, I am not one of them.”
3. Scope your topic to make it quite clear what you’re talking about and what you claim expertise in. You can make this as narrow as you like. Western culture reveres specialization and narrow expertise.
4. Talk about your topic from the point of view of your experience of it. Position yourself as an expert on your own experience. There is no one who knows about your experience better than you do.
So make your goal to be credible, rather than to be knowledgeable.
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thanks look forward to receiving some tips
Thanks, hoping to receive some tips
Years ago I wrote about being credible by standing out from the sea of bad presentations out there. And your old line about avoiding slides full of bullets seemed very apt: “Bullet-point slides damage your brand.”
So you can look credible by looking better than 95% of presentations – which isn’t very hard!
Also, citing a great quote (or a telling statistic) from a recognized expert on your topic (or from a brand like The Times) makes a bit of their cred rub off on you.
Another great way to show credibility’s to come up with a simple model (what you might call “an archetype, acronym, or alliteration”) that represents a key concept you’re discussing. That shows you’ve thought hard about your subject, and it makes it easier for your audience to understand, remember, and even share your message. (By making them feel smart like that, you come across as so credible, too!)
Again, it’s not as hard as it might sound, either. Just by playing with synonyms, you can often get them to form an acronym or alliteration (like your OAR and 3Q mnemonics).
Lastly, Brendon Burchard has some useful tips on credibility in this 1-minute video clip. (And if you click the red dot on the progress bar when it first stops, he goes into more detail. As you’ll see, he too loves alliteration!)
It’s the right position. ?redibility and knowledge are different things. The most important thing for the speaker is to be honest. It is not necessary to know everything, but you need to be able to admit it and of course, give the audience useful information.
I’m very grateful for the advice you give to the introverted speakers.
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Credibility and being knowledgeable are not synonymous.
How to be credible?
Thanks for the post! I think that it is important for each person to find exactly the thing that he will really like. And then there will be no “must” and everything will be done only according to your great desire. It’s really cool when you do what you love