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It’s an unfortunate fact of life: Sometimes speaking the truth isn’t enough to sell the truth. On the converse, sometimes dressing up rubbish as the truth works –that’s why we have politicians.


Substance is important, but the perception that your substance is true and of value is often times more important. Before you can get people to listen to you, you have to give them a preliminary reason to do so.


That’s where credibility kicks in. Credibility is basically how believable you are and how far people are going to take you seriously. There are 3 popular categories of credibility.


Building Credibility


1) Initial Credibility


Before you say or do anything, you are likely to have already created an impression on your audience. Your background and qualifications grant credence to the future messages and values you intend to convey; to a certain extent, your appearance plays a part too. Dress shabbily and your audience is likely to deem your character to be similar.


Most of your daily conversations operate on initial credibility. Your coworkers or friend take you seriously (at least sometimes) because they have an expectation that they can rely on you to a certain extent. By virtue of merely existing as the person you are, you have a certain degree of credibility that allows you to carry out daily tasks with others.


2) Derived Credibility


As you begin to speak and present, your audience will begin to formulate their beliefs about you. Derived credibility is essentially what your audience is able interpret as believable or otherwise as your speak.


3) Terminal Credibility


This is the final impression you leave on your audience. It is a mix of initial and derived credibility and will serve to either lump you in the ‘believable’ or ‘baloney’ group. All the substance you would have delivered will rely on this crucial point where your audience decides to take you seriously, or otherwise.


Two Factors the Influence Credibility


1) Expertise


Sometimes known as competence, this factor deals with how well-versed you are in the topic you wish to convey. Personal qualifications, evidence and research will help bolster credibility by showing that you know your stuff.


In a real-life context, this factor translates to employers often preferring graduates from elite universities given their credentials, or people seeking business advice from consultants with a proven track record. No one wants to go to a seminar by some random guy on the street –expertise is essential in making their initial investment of time worth it.


2) Sincerity


If you believe in what you say and you show it, others are likely to follow suit.  No one is going to take a person who can’t take themselves seriously, seriously. Overlooking that confusing statement, minor details such as posture and tone of voice help create the impression that you truly champion your cause, or that you truly believe that you are right. When was the last time you felt absolutely convinced by a person who was hunched forward, reading from a script in a monotonous voice?

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