Does Your Audience Trust You?

On Friday morning, I heard Chris Brogan speak on a panel at the Harvard Club in New York City. The topic was about the New Relationship Economy and the Trust Economy. He said "we are farmers and stewards, not machinists". Another panelist, Charlie Green, said the doctrine of competition is poisoning the economy. "People trust people-not companies," he explained.

The third panelist, Julien Smith, referenced social media as the new megaphone. The reasons for trust are the same but the set of tools are changing over time. "We know what body language signals mean", he stated. "There is a new model of trust modeled online". If we don't answer emails for three days, the lack of response impacts trust. Each person left with books from the authors.

So what are the implications of building trust for speaking?
My first observation of this panel was the high level of preparation and delivery of the speakers. Each panelist spoke for exactly five minutes.
Embedded in those five minutes were nuggets of information and food for thought.

The event began with networking and breakfast and the presentation began on time. When the speakers finished, the rest of the meeting was for the audience. This style is Chris Brogan's signature. As a celebrity at podcamp, he believes that the expertise is in the room and not just in the minds of the speakers.
I would say that there was a good level of trust from this audience.

So how do you create trust with your audience?
1. Deliver what you promise. If you advertise a 9:00 start time, don't start at 9:15.
2. Create community. People bond around food. When one of my corporate clients cut back on breakfast, I brought in donuts. Allow people to mingle and make small talk to feel comfortable and connected.
3. Provide value in manageable segments. Trust expands when you respect people's time. Give them information they can use.
4. Share personal experience. We trust people who are real and who are most like us.
5. Involve and engage. Podcamp is called the "unconference". That's because the members of the audience contribute as much during the sessions as the speaker. A friend of mine shared a story with me. He was at a sales conference. During the presentation he raised his hand to offer an additional tip from his own experience. The speaker, feeling threatened, shot back "Excuse me. This is my speech." My friend was devastated. If you come from ego, you'll alienate the audience.

The new model of speaking is discourse not monologue.
When people can share ideas and opinions and they feel heard and respected, trust will grow exponentially.