Your Audience Is Not Just Evaluating Your Content, They're Evaluating You
Have you ever listened to a speaker and discounted their content because something seemed off about them? You couldn't put your finger on it, but the presenter seemed inauthentic or untrustworthy.
Your audience is evaluating you in much the same way. Even though your research is solid, your ideas are innovative, and your subject knowledge is second to none, the audience will stop listening if they do not like you or find you believable.
Consider this quote from master communicator Tim Keller:
“We have said that your listeners will be convinced by your message only if they are convinced by you as a person. There’s no escaping this. People do not simply experience your words, arguments, and appeals as disembodied messages; they are always sensing and evaluating the source. If they don’t know you, they are (usually unconsciously) gathering evidence to determine whether they like you, can relate to you, and respect you. They’re noticing whether you’re a happy or dour person, whether you are poised or nervous, whether you seem kind or hard or smug. They are looking for love, humility, conviction, joy, and power – for some integrity and congruence between what you are saying and who you are. Audiences are able to sense what kind of energy – or lack thereof – lies behind the speaking. They may see insecurity, the desire to impress, a lack of conviction, or self-righteousness – any of which closes their minds and hearts to the words.”
What are some ways you can endear yourself to your audience and appear authentic? Do not underestimate the importance of answering this question!