How to Demonstrate Credibility


Credit: Krista Powell Edwards taken from

The impact of any communication and how it can be interpreted struck home recently. I was delivering a workshop on facilitation skills, and the group were exploring neutrality.  Volunteers acted out scenarios which included looking out of the window, writing notes in a pad, drumming fingers on the table.

I asked the group what were they seeing and people didn’t describe the behaviour, but instead said “they’re bored”, “they’re not interested in the group”, “they’ve switched off”. These everyday behaviours were seen, then interpreted and judgments made.

Ideally we should not make assumptions, but we do and the incident above shows how quickly we assume and judge. One thing we judge is the credibility of the communication or communicator. The dictionary definition of Credibility is ‘trustworthiness’. To be credible is to be ‘worthy of trust’ or ‘believable.’ Webster’s Dictionary.

Credibility matters because we believe and trust people who we think are credible. We tend to distrust and not believe people we don’t think are credible. If we need to influence, convince, sell to, or persuade other people we need to be credible. Credibility is what makes the other person or persons listen to us, believe us, trust us, and follow us.

Credibility is in the Eye of the Beholder.

In the facilitation course example, people interpreted the behaviours in different ways from their perspective, from their reality, ‘map of the world’. We may believe we are credible, but it’s the beholder, our audience, that we need to convince. So how do we communicate our credibility, and demonstrate we are credible?

Some ideas:-

1. The Importance of Outcomes

In demonstrating credibility the starting point is identifying our outcomes

    Ask yourself.

  • What do I want to achieve in the situation?
  • What do I want to communicate?
  • Who is my audience and what outcome do I want with them?

2. Show you Know it

Just because we are speaking doesn’t mean people listen. Why should people listen to you? What knowledge and skills do you have that are particularly relevant in the situation?

Your choice will be dependent on the audience – what is it that they will recognise and accept as appropriate and valid credentials?

    It may be

  • specific industry/sector or issue experience
  • Length of experience
  • Specific qualifications
  • Level of expertise

Identify the ‘difference that makes the difference’ – why you know what you are talking about.

3. Build a Connection

We have a connection with every person we make contact with. Think back to the people you had an interaction with in the last week. Consider the different strength of connections you made.

  • Some will have been strong – talking with good friends or family members
  • Some very weak, for example other drivers on the road, people in a supermarket,  walking in the street.

The strength of the connection depends on the situation and the people involved.

It takes two to make a connection and we cannot make people connect with us.

If you want to make a connection, consider how you can build it. What will motivate the other person to connect with you? Do you have any points of similarity, common ground to talk about? What will be of interest to them to talk about?

4. Demonstrate conviction, passion and purpose

  • When you communicate, do you care what you are talking about?
  • Do you show that you believe in what you are saying?

Recall presentations or speeches you heard in the past and ask yourself what it was that made them memorable. After the words have been forgotten we remember the passion and conviction of the speaker.

If you are communicating and you are not convinced of what you are saying this will be communicated to your audience.

Review what you are communicating – are you communicating conviction, passion and purpose in your words, tone and body language when you want to demonstrate credibility? If not, how can you do so?

5. Be Aligned and Congruent

Congruence in communication is the consistency in words, voice tone, body language of the speaker in face to face communication, voice tone and words when communicating on the telephone.

We notice incongruence. When we phone call centres and we hear an agent asking ‘How can I help you?’ whilst using a disinterested tone, we do not feel they really want to help.  This is incongruence in action and its impact is that the agent and service they represent loses some of our trust.

The more congruent we appear, the stronger the likelihood of being seen as credible.

The three communication channels have different degrees of impact. The percentages below are the amount of trust we give a communication channel in a face to face interaction if there isn’t congruence:-

  • 55% non-verbal communication – our body language
  • 38% our tone of voice
  • 7% the words we use

Given that our body language and voice tone impact so greatly on being perceived as congruent and thus as credible, it’s useful to consider ways we can manage them.

Some suggestions to help develop congruence

  • Notice when you feel congruent and when you don’t. What is affecting and impacting.  What can you do to feel more congruent, less incongruent?
  • Learn your lines, practice and prepare. The more you know what you are doing, going to do, the more confident you will feel inside which will be communicated on the outside.

Krista Powell Edwards

About the Author – Krista Powell Edwards – The Credibility Expert

With over 17 years experience as an independent training and development consultant, fully qualified in Human Resources and a certified trainer in Neuro Linguistic Programming and with a Masters Degree in Human Resource Management, Krista Powell Edwards is an expert in her field.

Credit: Krista Powell Edwards taken from

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