Establishing Credibility

Learning Objectives

Discuss how to establish credibility in your persuasive speech.

If you are going to persuade an audience, you have to first get them to trust you and see you as a credible communicator. Being credible as a speaker means showing your audience you have their best interests at heart, that you are knowledgeable about the subject you are speaking about, and that the evidence you use to support your argument is trustworthy.

A handwritten T-shirt that says Trust Me I'm a Doctor

Establishing trust with the audience requires a combination of competence and character.

Communication scholar Stephen Lucas says that speaker credibility is affected most by two factors:

  • Competence: How the audience views your intelligence, knowledge, and expertise on the subject you are speaking about.
  • Character: How the audience views your concern for them, sincerity, and trustworthiness.

Lucas further advises that speakers do the following to establish their credibility:

  • Explain to your audience why you are qualified to speak on the topic. Provide your own personal experience with your topic, if relevant. Demonstrate that you have done sufficient research on the topic to speak about it with authority.
  • Establish common ground with your audience. Identify with your audience and show them how the case you are making is consistent with their values and beliefs.
  • Deliver your speech fluently, expressively, and with confidence. If you speak with conviction and communicate you care about both your speech topic and your audience, you are more likely to be successful.[1]

A major part of coming across as a competent and credible speaker involves putting together a well-crafted speech with effective arguments in favor of your proposition.

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  1. Lucas, Stephen E. The Art of Public Speaking, McGraw Hill, 2020.