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Public Speaking – Why Leaders Must Crave Trust

‘The European Central Bank acted on Tuesday to prevent a potential collapse of the Greek banking system after the country was declared by a large ratings agency to be in “selective default” ’ New York Times, 28 Feb 2012.

That really doesn’t sound good. In fact, it sounds positively scary!

It’s yet another in a long line of negative headlines about the state of the Euro and its member nations. It’s one more example of eroding confidence in Europe’s financial markets.

But hold the phone…

…what about the litany of press conferences we’ve seen, month after month, at which European heads of state and finance ministers have told the world that the Euro crisis is ‘manageable’ and their ‘long term solutions’?

Why haven’t these speeches stopped the rot? Where’s the trust? Why are markets not listening to Europe’s politicians and their stories?

Are there times when it’s better for leaders to say nothing?

Whether it’s Merkel, Sarkozy or other EU leaders who take to the podium to calm nerves – the markets aren’t buying many arguments or motives.

Speaking in public for the sake of saying something is folly.

Truth is, politicians who get in front of microphones to deliver platitudes or talk tough (all too often with an eye on how their messages will resonate amongst domestic audiences) instead of offering solutions do more than waste everyone’s time – they commonly exacerbate problems.

And international markets get jittery when faced with arguments that lack credibility.

They crave leadership, vision and bases for confidence – but find Europe’s political leaders wanting.

Trust is vital for leaders

Why are European leaders failing so badly?

In a nutshell, the markets don’t set store by what they say.

They are not sufficiently trusted. And without trust, it doesn’t matter how logical you are – your arguments will be compromised.

Speakers must never trade on integrity

Whether you’re a business or a political leader, you must establish and maintain credibility to carry the hearts and minds of those you want to persuade.

Understand, it’s not enough to get your audience’s attention and hope to win them over with the pure logic of what you say. Audiences pay as much, if not more, attention to whether they find you credible before taking on board arguments you make.

If they think you are less than sincere, expect them to dilute or even dismiss what they hear.

And if an audience losses faith in your integrity – chances are, they probably won’t rely on too many words that follow!

Images: “close up of conference meeting microphonesPARIS, FRANCE – JUNE 11: French president Nicolas Sarkozy (waving) and German chancellor Angela Merkel/Shutterstock

Eamonn is the CEO of The Reluctant Speakers Club, a leading provider of public speaking courses in Ireland. Contact him to learn how he can help you gain more trust and inspire others with your ideas

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  • Hi Eamonn, this is a timely post! I think the terms “Leader” & “Leadership” are fast becoming redundant in relation to politicians across the globe. The tone of our political leadership is almost beyond repair & proper leaders are now more usually found elsewhere. 

    If we are resigned to depending on our political leadership to lead us – that has for me, become, by far, the riskiest strategy and one that will probably fail. We built systems that were shallow and inefficient and now we need to take a personal and collective responsibility to create new ones, and a society that has a value beyond the one that has just failed us.       

  • Great post Eamonn and so accurate, “leaders” without trust can’t lead properly in any walk of life and often do more harm than good.  

  • Epobrien

    Thanks Debbie, there’s no doubt that leaders must pay attention to their credibility if they want to inspire anyone. You only have to look at the current Republican primaries in the US, or our own Presidential race, to see how politicians struggle to maintain support once their credibility is dented.

  • Epobrien

    Hi Niall,   Great points –  people are placing less trust in political leadership and yet we have never needed it more.  We live in risky times and collective responsibility linked with shared vision is something we need to foster. One thing is certain, political leadership divided will fall – we need the opposite.

  • The overall tone of our governmental authority is almost beyond fix & appropriate management are now more usually discovered elsewhere. 

  • Debi Harper

    Aoife well done on your 1st post,brilliant and I totally love “If opportunity doesn’t knock,build a door” will share everywhere:)

  • Catherine

    Fab read great post and agree with Debi love thet quote

  • I believe (rightly or wrongly) that engagement on other websites (such as this for example) improves SEO and SEM, especially when we can include our SN, Blog and weblinks every time we comment. Would you agree with that?
    Great common sense pointers there Aoife, and welcome to TYB! 

  • Great first post Aoife, lots of really useful information there.  If I could add one thing it would be to be very careful when choosing an SEO expert to work with your business.  Get a recommendation if possible as the right person will be good for your business, the wrong one will drain your cash and potentially damage your site in Google.

  • Thanks Niall! 🙂 

  • Thanks Debi! It’s exciting being part of Tweak Your Biz!! Thanks for sharing 🙂 

  • Thanks Catherine! 🙂

  • Hi Elaine, 
    Yes! I would totally agree with you there. By engaging with people on a variety of different platforms (using your SN, Blog and web links each time) it increases the number of inbound links to your website. This all helps your SEO but also your online brand reputation!

    However, I do have to say that unless your SEO is set up correctly using the basics in the above checklist, engagement on the various platforms is pretty pointless. Also, if Google Analytics (or similar) is not set up, you have no way of knowing which platforms you are engaging with, are worth your time! As we all know, time is precious! Working smarter not harder is key with SEO! Thanks for your kind welcome too! 🙂 

  • Thanks for your kind comment Debbie. 
    I would totally agree with you there – and I am so glad you brought it up!! 

    To be honest, if someone was calling themselves an SEO expert to begin with, I would be worrying! Let’s talk straight.. Nobody ACTUALLY knows how Google’s algorithm works when crawling websites, because Google keep it a secret. It is a guessing game! 
    So it is crucial to have an experienced person when dealing with your website. 
    If I was looking for an SEO expert I would: 
    1. Ask around. (Use all of your networks to get recommendations) 
    2. Check out their previous work 
    3. Don’t just go with someone because you have heard of them, they may be all talk and no action. 
    4. You are employing someone to work on one of the most important parts of your business. Make a contract (or agreed written agreement) 
    5. Also, just because they may be the cheapest, doesn’t mean you are getting a “good deal”!!!

    Hope that helps in someway… I’ve been doing Search Engine Optimisation for 2 years now, and I am still learning new things everyday! 🙂 

  • Elishbul

    Thank you for that ! Succinct and easy to follow for us non techies

  • Donna

    Thank you for this article.  At times I get lost in understanding SEO, it can be overwhelming, so much information, but sometimes confusing.  I like your instructions.

  • Hi Aoife, nice first post! Like how you mentioned how your content should benefit the user. This is the essence of great SEO – creating value for your readers, not trying to ‘trick’ search engines with spammy, worthless copy. If you’re going to go to the time/expense of creating content, why not make it great? 

  • John Twohig

    Well Aoife, for somebody who thought her first post was not going to be very good, I think you have scored a direct hit. The post is excellent, simple to follow and well thought out. I agree with Anton when he says, it’s important to post content with your customer in mind, not many do.

    Welcome to TYB and keep up the good work.

    John, Munster Abu!!!

  • Hi Aoife, just one point on that – it might sound surprising, but you can actually neglect the best practice elements you mention, and still do well SEO-wise 😉 In other words, you can still rank well through having quality inbound links and great content – even if your website is less than fully optimised. Links and content will drive your rankings, even without the other elements in place.

    Of course, having the whole package is obviously preferable and will bring the best results 🙂

  • Very well put together checklist, thank you =)

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    if for any other application that I have never tried

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