How to Remain Credible as a Speaker​

danny riley public speaking coach

Danny Riley
8 min read

What you’ll learn:

  • The importance of credibility.
  • The Curse of Cassandra.
  • How to remain credible as a speaker.
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What does speaking with credibility mean?

As a speaker, one of the most important qualities you can hold is to be seen as credible.

However, when starting out, many speakers will suffer from the ‘Curse of Cassandra’, which means that they feel they know the truth, but others do not believe them.

Cassandra was a greek mythological figure who worked in Troy in the Temple of Apollo. Her beauty was compared to that of Aphrodite, the most beautiful of all the Goddesses. Apollo wanted to woo Cassandra and offered her the gift of prophecy if she would exchange a kiss with him.

Apollo gave the gift first, however, and as Apollo leaned in for the kiss, Cassandra saw the future.

She saw Apollo leading the Greeks to invade and destroy her home of Troy. Seeing this, Cassandra spat in Apollo’s face. So, in a rage, Apollo added a curse on top of his gift. Now, whenever Cassandra saw the future she could not tell her prophecies convincingly. No matter what she said, nobody would believe her.

Later this led to the invasion of Troy. Even after Cassandra had prophesied the demise of the city on countless occasions and warned the Trojans to prepare, nobody believed what she said.

Remaining credible as a speaker:

When delivering a talk, many speakers feel frustrated that they aren’t articulating what they want to say in the best way.

This may be due to their own insecurities, or self doubt about the detail of their research. 

A few things can result from their self-criticism:

  • A person may decide not to speak at all about their chosen subject.
  • They may cut their message short, even while knowing there is more to it.
  • They might tell their truth, but with body language sub-communicating dishonesty.

All of these outcomes are undesirable for a speaker who wishes to win over an audience. When a speaker takes to the stage, the platform, speaks on video, or even holds attention in a business meeting they need to be congruent.

Their words, thoughts, and body language need to match.

So, how do you avoid the curse of Cassandra?

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Avoiding the 'credibility curse' of Cassandra.

Cassandra gained the gift of prophecy due to her bargain with Apollo the god of the arts.

In a modern sense we can look at this bargain as the dedication to research and our craft. If we do not practice our speech, or we fail to dedicate significant amounts of time to researching our topic, we can feel like we do not know enough to convince our audience.

If you want to be considered a credible speaker, research well grounded peer reviewed journals, cite sources, and use case studies of your own work that show how you are an expert in your field.

When I see a speaker, or even a writer who chooses to use the words or examples of other people without citing them correctly, it kills their credibility instantly.

While some things, like jokes, or some old stories, or even myths like Cassandra can be used without citation for inspirational speeches, we must be careful when using scientific research or the intellectual property of other people.

Make your commitment to Apollo and dedicate yourself to your art, but keep to your end of the bargain and do the work necessary so that you do not suffer the Curse of Cassandra.

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