Whether you are making a pitch to your boss, a client or prospect, or a speech to a more general audience, credibility is a crucial ingredient. Joey Asher reminds us in an article on Law.com of the importance of ethos in any presentation.

Asher succinctly points out four simple tips to boost your credibility on such occasions:

  • Develop relationships in advance. It’s always a good idea to build relationships with decision-makers (asking for more details about their needs is one way), especially before making a sales pitch. Also find out prior to your presentation to a trade group what your audience wants to hear by conducting phone interviews with several members beforehand. Then you can refer to them by name when you present – great ethos there, I’ll tell you from personal experience;
  • Don’t read notes. Know your talk or presentation well enough that you don’t read your material. It doesn’t mean you can’t sneak a peek at your notes now and then, but the important thing is to have as much eye contact as possible. And eye contact is absolutely necessary to ensure listener attention and retention;
  • Allow lots of questions. It’s a good idea to encourage questions, and as many as necessary. It “shows an openness that makes your audience believe in you” according to Archer; and
  • Respond with short, crisp answers. I certainly agree that shorter answers are more credible than long ones. Responding blah, blah, blah or yada, yada, yada only results in boring, boring, boring. Not to mention a credibility gap as the questioner shuts down.

Pretty simple tips, but extremely important from the standpoint of gaining ethos for your presentations.