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 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.