Why should I listen to your presentation?

You’re presenting to a group, at least some of whom you’ve never met and your knowledge and expertise are important factors to that audience. There are three pieces of information you can use to build your credibility and help answer the question that is on all their minds: “why should I be listening to you?”

One piece of information you’ll want to give them is your title, assuming it’s relevant and helps build credibility. For example, if your title is Account Executive then it’s sufficiently generic that it’s not all that important to mention. However, if you are presenting to a group of IT experts and your title is Senior Vice President of Technology Solutions then you do want that group to know your title.

We know from research that authority is persuasive (Cialdini 2007) so a title that communicates authority and expertise is a very simple first step to building credibility.

Next, you can let them know about your experience and how long you’ve been in the industry or how long you’ve been with your current company. Again, you’re only sharing this information if it is relevant and helps build credibility.

Finally, you can talk about your achievements and experiences within the industry  – but only if that experience directly applies to the groups needs and interests.

Let’s take a look at an example.

I once arranged a meeting with a non-profit and an expert in the fund raising industry. This expert was an unknown entity to the non profit team he was meeting with so his introduction was critical. Here is how he told them who he was (the names of the companies and organizations are not actual):

“Let me tell you all how I got here. I spent twelve years as the Vice President of Development for USA University. When I first took the position USA was raising three million dollars annually. That dollar figure was something they were achieving on auto pilot, it was practically automatic.  So my charge was to get us off auto pilot and increase donations. After a top to bottom analysis of our processes we began making the necessary changes to do three things: first, increase the number of people we were reaching out to, second increase the response rates of the people we were reaching out to and three increase the donation amounts from those who were giving.   

As a result of these changes I was able to increase donations for eleven consecutive years and eight of those years were double digit increases. At the end of my time at USA we had taken that three million dollar annual figure and turned it into almost ten million dollars.

I was then recruited by Charity Works, the company I’m with now, to be the Senior Vice President of Development Processes and to bring that formula for success to customers like (he then listed a half dozen well known organizations that he had helped since being with Charity Works).”

By the time he was done it was obvious that he was the most accomplished person in the room regarding fund raising. He had built tremendous credibility by telling the prospect the titles that he had/has, the length of time he had been in the industry and his experience and accomplishments.

Also of importance was that his three achievements at USA University (increasing the number of people they were reaching out to, increasing the response rates and increasing the donation amounts) were exactly what this non profit wanted to achieve as well and were the core of the rest of the conversation.

Not all introductions should be focused on you (read about another introduction format here) but if your credibility is important to the group you are presenting to then your title your experience and your achievements can be significant factors in building that credibility.

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