The Innocent Habit That Is Killing Your Credibility

You and your team are starting a new program. You want it to be an out of the gate success, but it’s got no track record. You look around your office for some secret sauce you could pour on it to ensure it starts off with a bang…and then you realize you found it. You have what every ministry begs for—STAGE TIME!

You’ve got the undivided attention of your entire audience. Sprinkle some pixie dust on this and it’s going to be unbelievable.

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Then, you get into the middle of your talk and there is a point you really want to make stand out. You want to make it stick so...you exaggerate. It’s no big deal, Tim Cook and his entire team do it at every Apple product launch. It can’t hurt, plus it will give that point a little more punch and drive the point home.

It seems innocent enough, but here’s the problem:

1. Your audience's hype radar is stronger then ever.

Marketing has always been about hype in one way or another, but now that the internet is in its teenage years, we are bombarded with it every time we jump online. Our audience is keenly aware that they can't believe everything they hear. Skepticism is their friend. In fact, they will even discount the 100% of what they are told <— see what I did there :)

2. Even though it’s not false advertising it’s too close for comfort.

Even the US Government had to draw a line between puffery and false advertising, sad but true (see the Lanham Act), but that doesn’t undo the negative impact on an organizations reputation. It doesn’t matter which it was when your customers begins to loose trust in you.

This is true for business and it's absolutely true for our churches. Every time your audience thinks you’re exaggerating you loose a little more credibility. Every time you launch a new program with a little "too much excitement" you inevitably will set expectations too high. When you audience attends something that wasn't as awesome as you said it would be you loose a little more credibility. 

Credibility is something you kind of want to have as a public speaker and especially as a Pastor.

Every time your audience thinks you’re exaggerating you loose a little more credibility.
— StevenJBarker

So how do you avoid being viewed as an exaggerator?

1. Be Honest

Transparency goes a long way, especially with millennials (See Forbes article: Authenticity: The Way To The Millennial's Heart). Honesty as a communicator makes a talk feel more like a conversation than a lecture. While you might be the only one speaking, you are building a relationship with your audience. 

2. Tell them WHY

"This event is going to be amazing!" But don't let it stop there. Tell them why. Why is this event going to be amazing? What makes it special? What is its purpose? What are you doing this time to make it different? 

"Millennials hate church!" They do? What makes you say that? Did Barna do a study? Or is it just one of the Board Members kids that doesn't want to come to church anymore? 

3. Back up your statements

Backing up your attention getting statements can help create trust. Show your audience that you've done some research and that you're not just quoting hearsay. It doesn’t have to be in your face or overly detailed. Tell them where you found the stat or who you're quoting. Nobody expects you to come up with it all on your own. 


Exaggeration isn't really worth it in the long run and you're far better off building trust with your audience over time, instead of eroding it. 

Question of the day: When you are the listener, what ruins a speaker's credibility? 

6 Phrases Great Communicators Never Say

Want to ruin a perfect good sermon? Try one of these six phrases.

1. “Can you hear me?”

Trust your team. It’s their job to make sure the audience can year you. Focus on teaching, not on what you hear. What you hear from the stage is not the same thing your audience is hearing. Again, trust your team. 

4 Rookie Management Mistakes Pastors Make When Setting Goals

There are four rookie management mistakes pastors make when leading their teams and setting goals. We all know how important vision is and that casting this vision is the core competency of a leader. But what happens when that leader puts down the microphone, takes off the "leader" hat and sits in front of his or her team and their team manager? Vision doesn't get you to your destination, it only tells you where you plan on going. What's missing are the next steps. I can tell you we are going to Disneyland, but we will still have to decide how we are going to get there. 


So what are the rookie mistakes we make as pastors as we manager our teams? 

1. Thinking that goals are the answer. 

Goals are not the answer. They are only a single tool in your tool kit that help you guide your team. If you fee like your attendance is stuck, making a goal to get past it is going to do very little to contribute to the solution. The clearer the goal the better. Measurable helps, but a goal in and of itself is not the answer to your problems. 

2. Spending too little time defining your targets. 

Most of the time, in order to keep things moving, we set delivery dates for our set of goals. On the surface this is a good thing but we must know when to break the rule. When we don't spend enough time defining the targets in our goals we risk using poor data to make our decisions. We throw down numbers off the top of our head and then fear adjusting them later because it might look like we have no faith in our team. 

3. Morphing into politicians when we talk about our goals. 

It's almost as if we made a campaign promos and we fear we won't deliver. So instead of addressing it, we hide it. We focus on the successes and shelter the missteps. We fear we will ruin momentum so we point all the attention to the good stuff (even slightly exaggerating at times to add an extra oomph). 

4. Only talking about them at the beginning and end of the season. 

This is a mistake that sucks all the potential out of our goals and targets. It, more than any other mistake, destroys not only your effectiveness as a team manager, but also of anyone on your team (volunteer or paid). 

So how do you avoid making these mistakes? 

  1. Use goals as the thermometer in your organization. If these really are the most important improvements you can make on the road to your vision, creating them isn't enough. Use them all the time. Constantly be asking "how are we doing on this goal?"
  2. Build the targets in your goals in two meetings. Define the goal and then set a follow up meeting for at least two days later. Give your team the time to digest and resort appropriate targets. 
  3. Don't be scared of sharing failure. Failure doesn't scare people, not being able to identify why is what scares them. 
  4. Print out your goals and bring them to every meeting. That single piece of paper will be the catalyst for change. Bring it up every week. What's our progress? What do we need to do this week to keep this moving forward? What obstacles are we running into? 

Each weekly meeting should consist of status updates and next steps. 

This is the kind of clarity that points your team in the right direction and focusses their daily efforts. 

So what then is your job? 

Define your goals. Make them clear. 

Then, ask for updates...every week. 

And celebrate every move forward. 

Repeat those last two steps every week. Ask for updates (clarify next steps when needed) and celebrate every move forward. Get excited! Ever step forward is progress. 

Goals aren't the answer, every step forward is.