Connecting Credibly – Part I of II

Every presentation has a purpose – you would like your audience to do something about it.

It could be -

  1. Understand your view point, or
  2. Understand the problem at hand, or
  3. Adopt your solution or an answer,  or
  4. Think about a situation or person or a problem in a different way, or
  5. Take your call to action and do whatever that is you would like them to do, or
  6. Warm up to you, or
  7. Simply have fun… 🙂

Questions that I debate while trying to make a presentation effective -

  • How well did I relate to the audience?
  • Did they understand my ideas?
  • Am I able to lead, guide them without overwhelming them?
  • What would make it interesting, engaging, and/or entertaining for the listener(s)?
  • Could/did I appeal to their emotions, too? Did they feel connected to me personally?

I love and keep one nugget I got from Bert Decker’s book – You Have Got to Believed to Be Heard – and, that is, end of the day your credibility makes the difference.

Did I come across credible?

We have a workshop to brainstorm ideas on this with our toastmasters group. The theme is - credibility. What would help you make a credible connection with your audience? That is, whether it is a one-on-one conversation, or a group meeting at work, or a presentation to a larger group, or a friendly talk at a social event.


Three questions I bring up –

  1. How do you pull in information from different relevant sources and make a coherent presentation?
  2. How do you weave in stories – both personal and/or stories of others that would help you connect with them? Stories are part of our core fabric; we told and listened to stories growing up before any of the formal education.
  3. How do you select the right tools to make it easy for you, and for them?


I look forward to the workshop. I will bring in thoughts and ideas from it in second part of this blog post.


What do you do to effectively connect with your audience?

How do you put it together?


Our Trip to Jasper - Edith Caval Mountain - Devens Journey - connecting credibly

12 Responses

  1. Joe Woollett
    | Reply

    My interest in the panel presentation and discussion relates to the need to disclose sources. Some sources demand credit be given, under certain conditions, but also I think that when resources are used in a presentation to the club, the audience wants to to know the sources. People share their opinions in the club all the time, but the most effective presentations, in my opinion, are those which include the source of the inspiration or the information, be it a movie, a book, wikipedia, or whatever, I think that even unusual graphics can be shared.

    I think that knowing the sources provides power to a speech, and I think it is fair to fellow Towstmasters, that t he speaker shares the resources, rather than trying to appear as the credible .source, unless, of course, you are. we do have people with special knowledge, and therein no reason why they should not let the audience know either in their introdtuction, or in the early part of the speech, that they are relying on their own experience.

    • Deven Shah
      | Reply

      Hi Joe, I couldn’t agree more. Whether that is at toastmasters or in business world… acknowledging, mentioning credit to sources of information is so vital to maintain credibility.

  2. Garima
    | Reply

    Very nice site 🙂

    • Deven Shah
      | Reply

      Thank you Garima!

  3. Gene Dutz
    | Reply

    Spontaneity and ability to think on your feet are so essential to establishing your credibility.

    People want a meaningful exchange, a two-way give and take, and not a scripted monologue whether that is speaking in front of larger audience or a group conversation in a meeting, or a one-on-one conversation.

    Impromptu speaking at toastmasters is an effective tool to develop this skill. I also draw on my experience with ‘Improv’ – improvisation.

    Improvisation is the skill, a cultivated ability to compose and perform or deliver without previous preparation a scene or speech in a manner that gives the audience the impression that your presentation was rehearsed or practiced ahead of time. The person practicing the art hones his/her skills assiduously over time.

    How does it work?

    In the theater two or more Improvisers are placed into situation where they have to tell a story without a script. They may be given a word, a situation, a place, an emotion or a combination and in the matter of seconds they are expected to perform usually over a period of 2 to 5 minutes a coherent and interesting scene with characters, location, objectives, and emotion on an empty stage. It can be quite daunting, especially since the audience is expecting that the story be humorous.

    Similarly, in toastmasters, members participating in impromptu speaking or Table Topics are expected to respond to an unsolicited question or situation in an energetic manner over a period of 1 to 2 minutes. It too can be quite intimidating, since the audience is expecting the response to be coherent and interesting; humor is optional.

    Here are some characteristics that both art share.

    One: Agree to Agree

    Think of your favorite people to do a scene with. They’re probably the ones that make you feel smart, funny and interesting. Well, take this approach when working with all improvisers. They may or may not appreciate your effort, but you will; you’ll become better and more confident. Now, you might say that’s great for improvisation, but what does it have to do with Table Topics? Well, the person who is providing the questions has spent time and thought in developing them. You should respect their effort and reward it with an interesting and maybe funny response. You’ll become better and more confident.

    Two: Let Go of Expectations

    As an improviser you can only make moves; you can’t know where they lead. It’s more fun when you don’t know how it ends… when you gleefully throw something out and let it fall where it will. Let go of the end. You can’t plan it, so don’t. Live in the moment, it’s exhilarating. This is the same approach you should take when doing impromptu speaking/Table Topics; embrace the moment.

    During Table Topics you are put on the spot to respond to a question. Listen, pause and then respond to the question. Keep it simple. Pretend that a spouse, friend, co-worker, etc. has asked the question. How would you respond? It does not have to be funny, poignant or even accurate. It just needs to reflect your understanding of the question. That’s it. And the more you take this tact, the more comfortable you become with impromptu speaking, the better you get and the more you can introduce humor, poignancy and preciseness. Maybe you will “suck”. Embrace it, because eventually you will shine.

    Three: Fail with Confidence as Though you’ve already succeeded

    It won’t change anything, but wouldn’t you rather be the person that falls down and laughs rather than the one who berates her-self thus ruining her day? In order to be good at improvisation, you need to fail. People who do not fail do not take chances and good improvisation is deeply enmeshed in risk taking. Similarly, people who do not fail in impromptu speaking are not pushing the envelope. When you do that and fail, you learn and you get better. You become more confident in your ability and less anxious in your performance.

  4. Mark Prather
    | Reply

    I think telling stories bring so much credibility to communication – they help you connect personally. We humans are emotional beings after all.

    Storytelling has been a form of communication used throughout the history of mankind. People love to hear stories. We all grew up listening to the stories.

    Stories can be your own personal, or they can be about others – maybe, a touching experience of someone using your product or service, or a story that could teach a moral or a life lesson from history, or a story about an inspiring person, or a folk tale, or a fictional story.

    How to use stories in a presentation? How to tell them effectively? Looking forward to the ideas at panel workshop at our toastmasters meeting…

  5. Colin
    | Reply

    The best mindset to have when you start out with a true research project (as opposed to an opinion paper or story telling) is that, unless you are an expert in a certain field, your opinion truly has no place in your paper … except at the very end. Everything leading up to that point should come from a credible source and be cited. The better your sources, the more balanced your sources, the more credible your ultimate conclusion or presentation. Your information cannot simply come from one biased source like Fox News or MSNBC but must analyze multiple different sources that explore different viewpoints.

  6. Dr Rosa Gershfeld
    | Reply

    I was a teacher for 28 years. What helped me the most was coming up with jokes on my feet and involving emotions that came from my heart. U have to be genuine!

  7. Bernard Ferguson
    | Reply

    I believe there is a profound correlation between credibility in communicating and emotional intelligence (EQ). As I am sure you are aware, at the core of EQ is relationship management, which means unless you connect with your audience (or intended reciepient) in a manner where they are receptive to what is being communicated, much if not all of the message will be lost in transmission. Insuring your message is received in the context it was intended requires understanding where your “audience” is, which is accomplished through reading such things as facial expressions or body language. Possessing high levels of EQ enables individuals to assess (and control) not only their own emotions, but the emotions of those they are interacting with. Understanding the emotions of others then allows us to better tailor our communication in a way that connects with our intended recipients in a manner whereby others view us as “credible”.

  8. Deven Shah
    | Reply

    I got this while listening to Roger Love’s audio coaching program Vocal Power (

    “Much of our lives revolve around information. We spend so much time mastering information, shaping it, responding to it. Facts, code, numbers seem to be the crux of what we have to present. Immersed in this cool objective sea of data is a pivotal human fact that we humans are emotional beings. We rationalize decisions with logic. The heart and gut speaks way before our mind does, and it puts color to everything that we do.”

    I think that speaks to the emotional aspect that Mark, Rosa and Bernard have brought up in this discussion thread.

    At the same time, I spend so much time at work actually presenting specific details. Doing research, compiling facts from different sources and presenting, developing a logical presentation is also such a big part of it. Can’t wait to see what Colin has to say at the workshop. That aspect of presentation is also I think so critical.

    I enjoy journey of weaving in stories even in the business world. Would love to brainstorm together how the logic and emotions can come together for credibility.

  9. Lola Gershfeld
    | Reply

    To Joe’s point, disclosing references definitely adds credibility to the presentation. In my own experience, Toastmasters club has provided me with a practice field where sometimes I did reference the material and sometimes I did not. Every time I did, my presentation was a lot more credible compared to the time when I did not. One time, I received a note stating that it would have been better if included a reference of the material I presented as this person knew about the source. Although, our TM meetings may not be as official as public events, that experience taught me a good lesson. I am grateful that we have TM as a place to practice and feel confident in sharing sources that ultimately makes our presentations much more credible.

  10. Tary Waldner
    | Reply

    In a word I’d say passion is the reason I find credibility in others as well as myself.

What are your thoughts?