If you don’t have credibility, will anybody be listening?
When you walk into a room or open your mouth to speak, you are not on zero. The work you have put in before entering and speaking will either amplify or diminish the impact and gravitas of what you say and who “they” think you are. We call this pre-suasional phenomenon, CREDIBILITY.
Your audience are not automatically predisposed to listen to you or take you seriously when you issue a call to action. First, you have to seed the ground, build the tension, and, programme your audience to respond. Ask any successful public performer and they will confirm this – If you just show up and start, everyone will be disappointed.
What is Credibility?
There are many components (when articulating your talent in the form of a story). It exists in the hearts and minds of the listener as a promise, thought, emotion or belief. It is the faith people give themselves in backing you. It is the quotient of trust, loyalty and leverage that you inspire.
What can Credibility do for me?
I am glad you asked.
It gives your words weight. Let’s start with a negative example that too many people have suffered. You will recognize this (and if you don’t, you may be part of the problem.) In a meeting a woman speaks up and makes a valid, salient and actionable suggestion. What happens next? Silence and the train moves on. 15 minutes later, a higher status man makes the SAME suggestion and, this time, the room erupts – Praise, excitement and buy-in follow. HE has saved the day. She does not have leverage in that room. This is not right and it needs to change.
Your credibility quotient CQ will lend authority to the words used and suggestions made. It will be listened to, followed, reacted to with respect, and, taken on board as a serious contribution.
Trust – As an executive, trainer, coach or mediator, you will need to have established a high enough level of trust already if you wish to make your point with impact. The audience must know you have the skills and competence to deliver. They need to feel that you are a positive force amongst them, and, they should hold you in high esteem for keeping your word and performing well in the past. All this will have been established BEFORE you speak.
Credo – When you diligently define your values, essence and purpose, this enables you to articulate them to others and will add depth, width and richness to your reputation. Think about that for a moment. Can it be said of you now? That you stand for something? If so, this means that an audience will listen to you having preselected trust and respect as their default setting. Powerful stuff.
Visible – The whole you, the complex and sophisticated individual that is you is made up of intersectional parts, multiple experiences and emergent values. If you have followed the formula, you and your credibility will come as a package that is accessible to others. (The pragmatic benefit will be the time you save.)
Respect – Everyone has lived a life worthy of note. We have all had to overcome obstacles and carry on. But, the mental shortcuts of unconscious bias or the propaganda of polarising media may have diminished the love you are due. This goes double if you inhabit a marginal or oppressed group. Credibility is the ladder that will get us out of the hole, make us feel whole and let the light shine upon the fully visible version of us – Complete, included, and, represented.
Become a Player – No longer will we sit in the shadows watching the main show acted out by others that possess confidence and privilege, (sometimes masking their lack of depth and competence, and getting away with it.) We will have our time in the sun, and, at the microphone. And, we will be heard.
Inclusion – There exists an overused metaphor – Of being the last one picked for the football team as you stand against the wall with fear churning in your guts. It is an oft-used image because it represents a truth. It does not take much to be overlooked, ignored or side lined. Credibility is the membership pass allowing us to join and belong to key in-groups. It is the door code to influence.
In demand – Dare we go further? Do we want to be listened to and that is it? Have we been standing around outside for too long, excluded; looking in? Is it now time for us to take the lead, make a stand and broadcast our valid, ethical and necessary agenda?
Today, we are surrounded by so many dubious voices that appear to have the herd enthralled and the crowd mesmerized.
It is vital that quiet, marginal voices now speak up. With some investment in building Credibility, important messages and your story will be heard for the first time.
In Credibility Part 2 – We look at the components of credibility
About the Author – Matthew Hill is a Presentation Skills Trainer, Coach and Author, working with a range of corporate executives and soft skills trainers and coaches.