48 Enhance Your Credibility

We have already reviewed the importance of being a credible speaker and what it means for a speech to contain credible content. Let us add another way you can earn it: by using a visual aid that gives your content more substance and integrity (Seiler 174-85). You already read the example about using a graph or chart when relaying facts or statistics. Telling your audience about those numbers and adding where you obtained that resource will give you credibility. However, by seeing the actual visual of those numbers and using a footnote to show where the research came from, you are, in a sense, using a nonverbal component to boost your credibility with the audience. They’ll see your poster board or PowerPoint and think, “Wow, this person really came prepared. ”

Let’s look at another example: you are giving a persuasive speech about why all companies should undergo cultural sensitivity training. Your content has facts about employers who have conducted such training. But then you show your audience a video containing a segment from 20/20 -the one that depicts the Denny’s Restaurant class action lawsuit and the corporate-wide sensitivity training that ensued. By providing the audience with this unique visual example, the content you delivered will be magnified. The audience might say, “Okay, now I get why this sensitivity training is necessary for all companies. ” They might also see you as a resource on the subject because you:

  • a) took the time to find an outside visual aid,
  • b) sought to increase their understanding, and
  • c) strove to drive your point home in as many ways as possible.

Without question, the wrong visual aid -something clearly unrelated to your topic or downright cheesy (like a clown nose for no reason) -can send your credibility plummeting. But a visual aid that raises your content and your audience’s awareness to a new level can strategically increase your perceived character, likeability, and expertise with your audience.


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