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In reality, bragging about yourself or your company makes you sound fake and desperate. To appear more credible, you do the opposite: you use real research to provide real perspective to the audience’s specific situation.
The seven, easily-remembered phrases below (and the thinking behind them) will automatically generate credibility for any presentation:
1. “At the conclusion of this presentation you will know…”
Conventional wisdom is to state the “goal” of the presentation. However, the goal is what YOU want to accomplish, which may or may not be interesting or relevant to the audience. Rather than provide a goal, provide a reason to listen that’s relevant to the audience. Tip: Avoid the word “learn;” it makes you sound like a schoolteacher.
2. “As I currently understand it, your situation is…”
A presentation must address a problem, challenge or opportunity that that the audience faces (otherwise why bother?). However, nobody likes a know-it-all or being told how to run their own business. Appropriate humility creates credibility. Tip: research the audience so that your “best understanding” is really solid.
3. “According to a [recent] study from [reputable source]…”
The more recent the study, the more relevant it’s likely to be. The more reputable the source, the more valid it’s likely to be. Providing relevant, reputable research results is a massive credibility builder. Tip: sources in order of credibility are: 1) famous colleges, 2) famous research firms, 3) obscure colleges, 4) obscure research firms, and 5) self-funded.
4. “Here’s what your competition is doing:”
Audiences always appreciate competitive research, especially when it provides perspective that they’d find difficult to obtain on their own. Understanding the competition’s strategy positions you as an expert in their industry. Tip: provide a weakness of the competitor that your audience can exploit… with your help, of course.
5. “Here’s how [corporate role model] handled this:”
Presentations are more credible when they’re based on actual events rather than theory or (worse) opinion. Tip: for maximum credibility, use examples of companies that are the same size as the audience’s firm.
6. “I know this personally to be true because…”
When possible, introduce personal experiences to illustrate key points. Well-told anecdote not only add credibility but also make a presentation more vivid. Relevant stories also position you as a potential contributor to the audience’s success. Tip: make the story about how you helped, not what you did by yourself.
7. “I don’t know, but I’ll find out and get back to you.”
Admitting that you don’t know the answer to a question is always wiser than improvising an answer that might turn out to be wrong. Of course, admitting ignorance only creates credibility if you actually follow through and get the requested answer. Tip: email the answer to everyone at the presentation, not just the questioner.