Be authentic and credible on stage

June 8, 2020
Guidelines to deliver your presentation to your audience

Unless a leader can establish his or her credibility, anything they say will be of little consequence. 

1. To enhance your credibility:

  • Always be yourself – and be the speaker you are rather than trying to replicate someone else.

  • Take your message seriously – but don’t take yourself too seriously. Audiences love it when a speaker makes a joke at their own expense. This builds instant rapport.

  • Always reflect the mood of the circumstances – that is, be serious when the chips are down and upbeat when things are going well.

  • Use your voice advantageously – by avoiding a monotone. Inject some voice inflections to add interest. You can fine-tune this by recording yourself speaking and seeing how you come across as a speaker.

  • Use good body language – by getting out from behind the podium and wandering about the stage. You should also pay careful and deliberate attention to maintaining good (but not overbearing) eye contact. And emphasize what you’re saying by using appropriate gestures. Again, it may be helpful to videotape yourself in action and critique yourself.

  • Rehearse your presentation – ideally in the same venue at which you’ll be making your presentation. Get all the wrinkles out with a good dry run first. 

In addition to increasing credibility, these suggestions also convey authenticity. A good leader-communicator will also be adept at selling their message and engaging the passions of the audience.

2. To enhance your authenticity:

  • Asking frequent questions – to gauge interest and connect to the audience. Also you can ask a question and answer by yourself when presenting to a bigger audience.

  • Using symbols, illustrations and metaphors that make the benefits come to life for the audience – so they not only hear what you’re saying but also visualize the benefits vividly and with passion.

  • Paying careful attention to grooming – because that can have a direct impact on your credibility. For example, a union boss addressing a group of construction workers would never wear a tie because that is the symbol of management. There are loads of similar conventions to keep in mind.

  • Using music – to remind the audience who they are as people and what common values they share.

  • Respecting the power of silence – to underscore key points, to show respect, or to allow people sufficient time to reflect on what’s being said.

In many ways, leadership messages are a form of theater. Great leaders arise to the occasion. They take their message from a logical level to an emotional level through the use of symbols and images that resonate with the audience. Leaders have a foundation of passion and commitment, which comes through in everything they say. They then use a set of communication tools to convey that passion to others, along with an invitation to act accordingly.

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