Why are some people so easy to believe and trust? Why do we buy into their message?
Having the knowledge, or having expertise is only part of the equation. Many of us feel that knowledge, expertise, data, facts, and research should be what sits behind the most influential communications – but we know that is not always the case.
There are ways to make sure that your expertise does have impact, and it's all about you. Even when people say they trust the data, that’s rarely entirely true – what they’re often really saying is “I trust the messenger, and I find them credible”. COVID-19, for all its challenges, has provided a great opportunity to get some insight into the role of the expert in not just addressing the challenge, but making a really important contribution to the public messaging.
In our own work, and in working with our clients, we've found that the ingredients of credible expert communications include:
Giving reasons and evidence.....
The aura of expertise comes from a demonstration that you know your stuff. It's not enough on its own, but it is really important to build your message upon a sound basis of evidence.
...... without exaggerating or misrepresenting the facts.
This is all about maintaining trust and credibility. Don’t make stuff up – be clear about gaps, and be honest if new data doesn’t support old findings.
Communicating a consistent and carefully constructed message.
Consistent means constant and regular, but also repeatable. If you’re saying one thing one day, and something else the next, the credibility of your message will likely suffer. Carefully constructed means focusing on the purpose, thinking about the audience for your message, and answering their need.
Communicating confidently and decisively.
This is not just the ability to be decisive, but to do it under pressure. People draw confidence from certainty – but that doesn’t mean making stuff up (see above!). Provide your best advice, based on what you know, being clear about what you don't.
Our Communicate for Influence Workshop introduces the basics of communicating expert knowledge to influence strategic outcomes. Visit our Workshops page for more information, and to register your interest.