When I first started as a professional speaker, I remembered a comment one audience member wrote on my evaluation.
He said, "Diane, though helpful, sounded canned."
If you sound scripted or slick, your audience will begin to distrust you or your message. In these difficult and uncertain times, the ability to build and communicate trust is absolutely critical.
Trust trumps facts.
A woman in one of my seminars responded as soon as she heard me make that statement. She told a story about a consultant who worked with her boss. He was difficult and gave her boss a tough time. Later, this woman had the opportunity to meet with the CEO. The CEO said, "I hear your boss is difficult to work with." The woman said, "Oh no. Just the opposite. The consultant was difficult, not my boss." The CEO refused to listen to anything she said because he had a trusted relationship with the consultant.
Public speakers don't have the luxury of building long term relationships. When faced with a new audience they must gain trust quickly.
So how do you build trust from the platform?
1. Be "one of us". Speakers who have worked in the same industry are trusted. People who speak the same language or terminology, who do their homework, who belong to the same social network and communities will be perceived as insiders.
2. Use "we" and "us", not "you", or "they". Inclusive language communicates you're all on the same side.
3. Be consistent. "Actions speak louder than words." If you speak about teamwork and caring, and then ignore people after your presentation is finished, you won't be trustworthy.
4. Be authentic. This means talking from your heart as well as your head. Tell your personal story. Real life experiences build trust better than business or motivational platitudes.
5. Make an eye connection. Steady eye contact with one person at a time creates relationship. We don't trust someone who won't look at us.
6. Slow down your speaking rate. A fast, staccato pace denotes nervousness. To build trust, listen and pause.
7. Follow up and do what you promise. Building trust is a process. if you offered a copy of your slides, do it. Trust built on the platform can be instantly sacrificed if you don't keep your word.
Remember: Trust trumps the facts.