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Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Questions and Credibility

The QuestionAs a presenter, have you ever had the "recurring nightmare" that someone asks you a question, and you don't know the answer? Could you imagine that happening to you? Has it already happened?

When it does, it doesn't have to be a disaster, or even difficult. It can be as easy as saying "Great question. I don't know the answer to that, but I will find out and get back to you. See me afterward so I can get your contact information." If that is not appropriate, then at least admit that you don't know the answer.

What will happen if you do that? Will you lose credibility? In truth, some may judge you for it. Especially since as presenters, we are usually being counted on to be the "experts." Here's the hard news: People will know if we bluff. They may only know it as a "feeling," but they will know.

Pretend you have an audience of 100 people, and consider two possible scenarios. In the first scenario, you tell them you don't know the answer to a certain question. Say 13 (a number I just pulled out of thin air) of that audience judge you in some way for not knowing the answer when you "should." The other 82 members of the audience (we'll pretend 5 happen to be asleep) find you more credible because you admit that 1) you're not trying to pretend you are perfect the way so many other people do, 2) you are confident, and mostly 3) you are a person they can trust. The trust and credibility you gain in this scenario is realand substantial.

In scenario 2, say you bluff cleverly, with great expertise and finesse. Half the people in the room may not notice, but (at least) half will have a feeling that something is not quite right. You may have gained some trust or credibility with the half that thinks that you know the answer, but will lose trust with the second half. The slight amount of credibility you do gain with the first half will evaporate like windshield wiper fluid on a hot summer's day when they find out the inevitable contradictory information, or when their sense of intuition kicks in -- whichever comes first.

Which scenario would you rather have? 

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There is a danger greater than someone asking you a question you don't know the answer to. that is, you giving a presentation and no one remembers anything you said--that is the much more common problem.
posted by Blogger TJ Walker: August 4, 2010 at 7:26 PM Delete: 
I agree with you 100%, TJ. That happens far more often, but ironically, people fear it less.

I believe that if presenters were less fearful, and focused on connecting with people in the audience, then people would remember what was said. Staying in that comfortable, safe place is what makes speeches, and speakers, so forgettable.
posted by Blogger Unknown: August 5, 2010 at 8:42 AM Delete: 

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To provide quality speakers who are dedicated to making a positive difference in the world.
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Higher Speech

Higher Speech was founded in 2004 by Datta Groover in the Rogue Valley of Southern Oregon. He realized that as much as he had to offer others, by bringing others on board with their own unique specialties and strengths, there is far more to offer the world at large together than what we can all do separately.

The name "Higher Speech" was chosen because it says what we are all about. In the history of our planet, "Higher Speech" is what has always made the most positive and long-lasting influences.

About Datta

Datta Groover's goal is to inspire others to improve their level and quality of communication, helping lives work better personally and professionally. He offers public-sector workshops on Communication and Public speaking, as well as workshops within the corporate world.

He has authored 4 books, both fiction and non-fiction, is a professional member of both the The National Speakers Association, and of The Author's Guild. Datta has published numerous articles, and worked for many years as the content and style editor for Torchlight Publishing.

He has been speaking in professional circles since the mid-1980s when he chaired the International Committee for Self-Sufficiency, and has spoken in Europe, India, Africa, South America, and North America (and not just to ask for directions).

He works primarily as a fee-paid speaker, though is always happy to lend his services to a worthy cause.  His primary area of speaking centers around personal communication, both within the business environment and in people’s personal lives.  His speaking style is simple, direct, entertaining, and from the heart.   

Datta & Rachael Jayne GrooverDatta is a motivational speaker and is hired frequently by speakers, authors, and trainers who want to improve their presentation and communication skills. He lives with his wife Rachael Jayne in Fort Collins, Colorado.