Authority - one of the six methods of influence identified by Dr Cialdini – is about commanding respect. People enjoy listening to recognised experts, so demonstrating your authority is clearly useful in terms of engaging an audience. The challenge lies in achieving this without appearing insensitive, arrogant or boastful.
There are several avenues open to you when planning your presentation with authority in mind as a method of influence. Here’s a few:
One is to make sure that someone introduces you. This person can establish your credibility with the audience, by giving a précis of your professional resume and linking your presentation to the audience’s needs. At first sight, this might seem overly formal, but it really can work to your advantage. It’s perfectly natural that someone in authority be introduced – and, as you want to be that person, start believing you are and behaving as if you are. That aside, it’s much easier for someone else to “big you up” and tell everyone you’re an award winning author – for example – than for you to do this yourself.
If you have relevant professional qualifications, make sure the audience is exposed to these in some way – maybe via a handout, or supporting graphics.
In short, have a good think about where your authority comes from and make sure you draw it to the audience’s attention in some way. For example, if you’ve published several academic papers on your subject, find a way of referencing these during your presentation, or including details as ‘further reading’ in your handout.
This six-part series is based on Robert Cialdini’s methods of influencing people, as per his pivotal 1984 text Influence, the Psychology of Persuasion. We have adapted the six methods of influence to illustrate their applicability to the creation and delivery of memorable, more persuasive sales presentations.
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