A cold, hard fact of life is that you have to convince people that you are worth listening to. In a live interaction, expect that the participants are studying you closely, trying to determine what kind of expertise you have and deciding if you are going to deliver information that they can use. This post will help you to connect with participants by establishing credibility, and convincing them that you should have their attention right from the start.
- Look Credible
Dress professionally, wearing outfits that are slightly more formal that what you predict your audience may be wearing. For example, if you are speaking with a group of sales persons, a suit is likely a good idea. If you are addressing a group of teachers, a simple dress or shirt and tie is a good bet. For an hourly workforce who usually dresses in uniform, a pressed pair of khakis and a collared shirt is likely a good target.
- Sound Credible
Use a strong, confident voice, trying to hide any obvious nervousness. Try projecting your voice strongly to all corners of the room, with a tone of friendly authority. Get feedback on your tone or record yourself to get a feel for your confidence level.
- Tell Your Unique and Relevant Story
Outline your applicable experience, education, special projects, years in the career, special interests, and insights that were life changing for you. Answer the faint question your participants have in their minds: Can you influence me? Can you help me change for the better?
Here is an example of an opening introduction I gave for a Train the Trainer class for Hourly Operators who were being asked to step into the role of On-the-Job Trainers:
“Hello everyone, I’m Katy Caselli. I started my career as an hourly technician in the mid 90’s in a manufacturing facility, and my main goal was to get the product out of the door every day. Eventually I was asked to step into a training role, which brought a more interesting and challenging aspect to my job. I so enjoyed helping people to be more effective through learning that I stuck with it. I have by now worked with several hundred new trainers like you over the last twelve years and have my masters’ degree in Industrial Psychology. I look forward to helping you turn into effective and confident instructors.”
Here is another short bio, this time for a group of hiring managers learning how to conduct effective interviews:
“Hello everyone, I’m Katy Caselli. As part of a Human Resources team for the past ten years, I have learned how easy it is to make a poor hiring decision. I have conducted a great many interviews, and I can tell you, some candidates are excellent at interviewing! For some hiring managers, candidates can be so convincing that they land a job with few qualifications at all, and have ended up costing the company more in training and errors in the long run.
I look forward to sharing the secrets of effective interviewing so that you can be confident that you are selecting the best-suited candidates for the job.”
Do you see how both examples establish the know-how, experience and expertise needed to guide the participants? Also, can you spot the emotional hook? A slight bit of anxiety likely already exists for each participant: “Will I make a mistake in hiring the wrong person? Will I fail as a trainer of my peers? “ Your introduction provides relief that you are there to help them and to solve their problems. An emotional hook brings up that possible anxiety and also provides the promise that you are there to help solve their problem.
After an introduction with these elements, you have answered the question, which should they listen to you? And they should be all ears. The same goes for other media, such as web-hosted presentations, pitches and online training classes. Your audience may split their attention and drop away if there is no compelling reason to stay. You must start with that reason and proceed with the information that helps to solve their problem.
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