Boost your credibility as a leader

marketing ideas leadership

by Jack Pyle, Fellow PRSA

No leadership skill is more important than the ability to be persuasive; to speak with confidence and competence. The same statement could be made for all professionals, but it is especially true for managers. You must be able to be persuasive and credible if you are to convince others to use your ideas.

Managers can increase their credibility with staff, senior executives, clients and the public by strengthening their speaking and leadership communication skills. Fortunately, everyone can learn to be more dynamic and persuasive.

Simply by using the power of body language, you quickly increase your credibility and improve your ability to influence others with your ideas.

First impressions are crucial to credibility. In his excellent book, You are the Message, Roger Ailes points out that you must make a good impression within just a few seconds. In a job interview, Joyce Brothers says you have about 30 seconds to make a good impression.

Nonverbal communication (body language) is a key ingredient in first impressions. Your appearance and style make a big difference in how others see and respond to you. President George Bush, Senior certainly learned this well when he overcame the “wimp image” the media tagged him with before the first debate of his initial presidential campaign. Roger Ailes coached Bush on how to use nonverbal communications techniques effectively.

Everyone is familiar with the phrase: “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.” Even though we know this bit of folk wisdom is true, few people heed it. Where do most of us spend our time when getting ready to guide employees, present a proposal to management or staff, or respond to a crisis? We work on the words, the content. How many actually rehearse the presentation of the ideas and critique it? Is it any wonder we don’t do a better job of presenting our ideas?

Words are important. On the other hand, nonverbal communication carries most of meaning when you talk to another. Inflection (how the voice is used) also carries a significant portion of the meaning. You not only need to know what to say, it is very important to work on how you say it.

Some of the ways nonverbal messages are conveyed

  1. Tone of voice: Varying both volume and speed is important to make your voice interesting to others. Voices with a lower pitch have more authority than high pitched voices.
  2. Facial expressions: Smiling, good eye contact, and listening have a strong positive effect on others.
  3. Physical appearance and manner: Posture, handshake, gestures, energy level and use of humor affect your message delivery.
  4. Dress: Neatness counts. Darker colors command more respect. Make sure shoes are shined. Conservative classic styles work best to get a good response from others.

That’s a lot to think about, but here’s an easy way to remember what you need to do to increase your credibility. No matter how nervous you feel inside, using the following five tips will help you appear confident when you speak to others.

When you speak, remember S.P.E.A.K.

S is for smile. It’s one of your best communication tools. It always helps you make a good first impression, and it helps make others want to listen to you. Most managers need to smile more.

P is for posture. How you stand or sit makes a big difference. Your physical stance tells others how you feel about yourself. Confident people stand tall and sit straight.

E is for eye contact. A person who is believable and honest “looks you right in the eye.” Don’t stare, but look at a person’s face for at least three seconds before moving on to look at another person. If you are talking to a group, give your message to one person at a time. (This is important in the U.S. culture, but eye contact may have a very different meaning in another culture. If you are traveling abroad or meeting managers from other countries, learn the cultural differences.)

A is for animation. Show you are interested in your subject with your energy and animation. Be enthusiastic. Animate your voice by speeding up and slowing down, talking louder and softer at times. Make your face animated. A is also for attitude. Make sure you feel good about yourself and what you are doing.

K is for kinetics or motion. Use your hands and arms to make gestures that support your words. Use two-handed, symmetrical gestures, and hold your hands high when gesturing at about the chest level.

Remember S.P.E.A.K. and you will boost your credibility in conversations and presentations. You will be much more persuasive, and people will respond more favorably to you and your ideas.


Jack Pyle, president and janitor of Face-to-Face Matters, Lansing, Michigan, USA, is a communication consultant and provides leadership communication training to corporate, government and nonprofit managers. He speaks frequently at state, national and international conferences.

Personal to Pro: Selling Ideas Like a Motivational Speaker

public speaking

One of the most important ingredients for a successful, happy and harmonious life is the ability to communicate effectively. Life is built upon relationships, and one of the components of positive, successful connections is good communication. This applies in both your personal and professional life.

Motivational speakers are known for their skilled communication abilities, and we can learn a lot from them. Whether you work for an existing company or are an entrepreneur, the only way you’ll be able to sell your ideas is by communicating what you’re offering in an effective and compelling way. The same goes for having a satisfying personal life. Here are five of the hallmark strengths of the very best motivational speakers that you can incorporate into your own communication style:

1. Know Your Audience

Avoid a one-size-fits-all approach. Every customer, individual or group you will be addressing is unique. Get to know their background as well as their primary wants, needs and concerns. Focus on the individual aspirations of each person you speak to, whether it’s an employee, a customer, your child or your life partner.

2. Establish Credibility

If you’re meeting someone for the first time, you’ll likely have to work to establish credibility and earn their trust. If you’re pitching new ideas, define a proven methodology ahead of time that you can explain and help compel your audience. Whether your agenda is personal or professional, create a detailed, step-by-step, clear plan for success. Your credibility will rise exponentially if you can point to past successes based upon the same formula.

3. Learn From the Best

When choosing and refining your communication style, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Look to successful speakers and great leaders that you admire and glean ideas and inspiration from them. For example, consider Josh Shipp or Ed Young; according to inc.com, Shipp is a motivational sensei, employing both his youthful spirit and sense of humor to relate to audiences. Ed Young, the founder of Ed Young Fellowship Church, uses a creative communication style that helps to make even complex ideas easy to understand and apply, according to FellowshipChurch.com.

4. Build a Genuine Connection

While this tip will be easier to apply in your personal life, it can be invaluable in your professional life as well. No matter who the person is, no matter what their background or walk of life, you can relate to them on an authentic personal level. All you have to do is speak from the heart and have true empathy for them as a fellow human being. We all want pretty much the same things in life: security, peace of mind and to be appreciated. If you relate to every person you meet with this in mind, your relationships are likely to thrive.

5. Expect the Best of People

A positive attitude and outlook can go a long way toward success in every area of your life. Try and enter into every human interaction with an expectation of the highest and best outcome from the exchange. Visualize your ideal scenario with that person before the meeting begins. Expect the very best from people, and you’ll likely be amazed at what transpires.

public speaking

Sean Patterson is an English instructor and is working on his first screenplay.

Marketing Idea #19: Perfect Your Powers of Persuasion

Marketing Ideas Public Speaking

Hone your public-speaking skills. Join Toastmasters (www.toastmasters.org). As you move onward and upward into the business community, you will be called upon to give presentations before groups (one of the best ways to be perceived as an authority on your topic). Being proficient and persuasive in communicating ideas and stories before an audience is a huge asset. If you’re petrified by the thought of public-speaking, take solace: The point isn’t to get rid of the butterflies, it’s to get them flying in formation.

Marketing Idea #71: Offer Editorial Comment

Marketing Ideas Offer Editorial Comment

Often, radio stations will set aside time in their news schedules for taking public comment on important issues. Begin by calling the news directors of your local radio stations and asking for the chance to offer your editorial comment. (Make sure you have a good sense as to whether they cater to the audience you want to reach.) Focus on local concerns related to your work.

Marketing Idea #56: Conduct a Seminar

Marketing Ideas Hold a Seminar

Offer an adult education class or seminar. This may be something you conduct through a local school or university, or it could be offered through a local business association or group. Your intent is to bring value to the attendees and the program hosts and to become known.

Variation: Spread the wealth. Invite other professionals in the area to speak as well. By doing so, you offer more value to the seminar and improve your referral network. Other professionals will also be able to help in the marketing of the seminar by reaching out to their own networks.

Variation: Find a professional or celebrity speaker, and bring him in to talk about a topic that is relevant to your audience. Partner with a local hotel and business associations to provide the venue and help cover the costs.