There are some things speakers do that absolutely kill their credibility.  Some of those things are content oriented, some of those things are not.  This post is about bringing awareness to some things we do to kill our credibility when presenting.

  1. Too many filler words.  Filler words are those words we utter when we’re trying to figure out what to say.  Words like: um, and, like, yeah, know what I’m saying, etc.  If you’re using more filler words than actual words, you’re audience will likely be annoyed and/or wondering if you know anything about your topic area.
  2. Alienating audience members.  We’ve all had that situation where someone shuts us down somehow and then we feel bad about ourselves and then we dislike the person who shut us down.  Don’t do that to your audience members or they won’t pay attention to what you have to say.  Ways to alienate people include (non-exhaustive): ignore their questions, tell them that their wrong directly, say something culturally insensitive to them, or something against their gender, sexual orientation, etc.
  3. Closed off body language.  If you cross your arms, legs or any other body language other than a straight back and wide open shoulders, you will come off as lacking confidence.  If you lack confidence in what you’re saying, why should your audience have confidence in what you’re saying?
  4. Speaking so your voice goes up at the end of sentences.  That’s typically the inflection for a question.  Are you questioning what you’re saying?  If you sound like you are, your audience will do just that: question your credibility.
  5. Being too casual or too formal.  If you’re speaking to an audience of impressive people, don’t have girl chat time with your fellow speaker.  If you’re speaking to a room full of hip folks, don’t be too stiff.  In short: speak at your audience’s level so they feel spoken to by a peer, not spoken at or ignored.

Can you think of more to add to the list?