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Want to Establish Your Credibility in a Presentation – Don’t Tell Your Audience about Your Accomplishments!


One of my friends sent some of her blogging friends this email today…


It does seem like a bit of overkill don’t you think?  I replied back to my friend that I hoped this person was a social media expert with a tag line like that!


My friend’s email got me to thinking about speakers that I’ve seen who spend an inordinate amount of time talking about their own accomplishments within a presentation.  It’s kind of like the social media icon overkill in the email.  I don’t think it sends the message that the speaker intends.


What message does it send…


Let Me Tell You How Wonderful I Am

Do you have any pet peeves where, if you looked at it closely you’d have to admit that you have the pet peeve because it’s something you don’t like in yourself?  OK, what I’m about to say I hate is one of those pet peeves I have to fight hard to keep from doing myself.

I hate it when a speaker spends the first few minutes of his speech (or the whole speech) telling us how wonderful he is.  I don’t mean that the speaker says the words, “I’m wonderful.”  But what that speaker does instead is talk about his many academic and business accomplishments.


This Is Not the Same as Answering the Audience’s Unspoken Questions – Why Should I Listen to You?

Now don’t get me wrong.  I do believe our audiences want to know why they should listen to us.  I think there are appropriate ways to answer the question and I’ll talk about those in a moment.

I know what it’s like to stand in front of an audience and question myself.  Afterall, aren’t we our own worst critic thinking Why should these people listen to me?  Many speakers (myself included) feel at times like they have to provide justification for why they were the ones chosen to speak.  So they provide their resume, talking about all their accomplishments to provide justification in their own minds and in the minds of the audience members.

But what spewing off your titles and your accomplishments is about is you and your own insecurities.  It’s not about the audience.  The audience is there to get value related to them.  It’s awful listening to someone brag about themselves.  Get over your insecurity!  Own the fact that you were asked to speak.  Feel good about it and serve your audience.  And use these tips to answer the audience’s unspoken questions, “Why should I listen to you?”


Establish Your Creditability in Writing

If you’re speaking at an event or in a meeting, chances are there is some sort of written communications that is available to those who will be in the room.  Use those forums to establish your credibility.

Provide the person who owns the meeting with a brief bio that highlights relevant information related to the topic upon which you’ll speak.  The meeting owner can then include that information on the organizational website, in a conference brochure or within a meeting invitation.


Let Your Introducer Establish Your Credibility

If someone will or could be introducing you, type up an introduction of yourself that includes brief biographical highlights that establish your credibility related to your topic.  Keep in short – less than a full page double-spaced with 16 – 20 point font.  Provide the introducer with the introduction before the event and bring a couple of extra printed copies to the event as backup.  Ask for an introducer if one hasn’t been specifically provided.  You can even recruit one before your presentation starts if need be.

Psychologically, hearing your accomplishments from a third person helps the audience feel more trusting of your credibility than if you were to say the exact same thing yourself.  Keeping the introduction to one page double spaced in a huge font will force you to resist the temptation of going on too long about yourself as well.


Deliver Value

The number one best thing you can do to establish your credibility is to deliver valuable content.  If you provide your audience with information that helps them, you won’t have to convince them you’re trustworthy.  They will see for themselves how wonderful you are.  And seeing it for themselves, believing based on their own experience, will carry the most clout and will have them singing your praises for you.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t ever talk about your experiences.  Your stories are great learning points for your audience.  But then it’s about serving your audience, see?  Not about tooting your own horn.


Are You Overloading Your Expertise?

So do you have a verbal icon list of accomplishments in your presentations?  Diligently look at what you plan to say.  Anytime you talk about yourself, ask yourself the question, “How does telling my audience this help them?  Why is it important to them?”  If you don’t know, then chances are, you’re justifying yourself and not really helping them so cut the material.

Keep focusing on your audience and they’ll be telling the world how wonderful you are!


What Do You Think?

Am I overly sensitive because I hate this about myself?  Do you think it’s OK for a speaker to talk a lot about herself and her accomplishments?  Please share your opinions and examples either way!

Mike Hemphill
Mike Hemphill

I think this article is very insightful. I appreciate a speaker who understands that their purpose should be audience value driven. My experience as speaker and participant has always been richer when I feel like their is a connection happening and value being delivered. I will go out of my way to change the topic as needed to get the value delivered. That for me is the most important goal. Thanks for the article. Loved it!!!


Thanks, Mike, I'm glad you liked the article. I agree - our job is to deliver value. How do you gauge when you need to change the topic? What do you find the biggest challenge is when having to change what you plan to deliver? Thanks for joining the conversation. Love to hear more of your thoughts.

Jennifer Hancock
Jennifer Hancock

I think you are right on. I always feel a bit odd, like I'm hearing a sales pitch instead of being given the information I was promised the talk would be about. It's annoying really. If I like your content, I will buy your book or seminar or whatever. But if all I get is a sales pitch - I'm pretty skeptical that your book or seminar will include more content then your sales pitch did. And while we're on the subject - when you send me to a link to get a report, don't just give me a form page. Give me a page with some information on it - maybe one key bit of information with a link to the sign up page to get more. I'm loathe to fill out forms to get a free report when I don't really know much about the focus of the report. Back to intros - I almost always have someone do the intro for me. Then when I take the stage, I give them a little person information about my upbringing. So they get to know me as a human being. If it's relevant to a story to illustrate a point I will add in bits of my biography throughout the talk. But at the point I am making a point so that its directly relevant to what I am about to say. Thanks for this post - very cathartic. Nice to know I'm not the only one who feels this way.


Jennifer - Thanks for chiming in! I absolutely agree with the information about a link to a report. Many a time I haven't bothered to give my name because, eh, it's not worth it to me to go through the trouble. What I'm really thinking is... they haven't given me enough value yet to make it worth my while to get their spam! Thanks for taking care of your audiences! I know they appreciate it!