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What Do You Really Mean? Specificity Is The Key to Credibility

Be specific. Specificity builds your credibility, and the more credibility you have in any situation, the more you will succeed.

As a presentation skills expert and the creator of FrippVT, I always say, “Specificity builds credibility.” I adopted this expression, from my Silicon Valley colleague, David Palmer because it is so true. Specificity is the key to credibility. Every day I listen to intelligent engineers, experienced leaders, and true experts in every field and find that too many are sloppy speakers. If you want to build your credibility, listen to what you say. Record casual conversations, your side of a phone call, or yourself leading a meeting and you will find out how often even intelligent people can fall into the trap of using the word stuff. Stuffis rubbish. What do you really mean?

Of course, in everyday conversation we don’t normally prepare what we’re going to say – so, it can feel natural to be non-specific. However, I guarantee that your important conversations and presentations will be much better if you examine your current speaking habits and thenconsciously build specificity into your everyday language.

A question I often ask my clients is, “Specifically, what do you mean by thing?” I recently listened to a marketing expert speak. I’m a big fan of his expertise, but for the first hour of his talk almost every statement he made included the word thing. I counted 25 uses of thing and considered two different interpretations of what he might have meant.

Another big offender is tons. You do not get tons of ideas; you get three pages of notes or 16 actionable items. After a networking event I hear people say, “Oh, I met tons of interesting people.” No, you did not. You met two dozen interesting people with whom you probably had seven meaningful conversations; two you will follow up for business conversations; and two you are looking forward to seeing socially. Be specific. Specificity builds your credibility, and the more credibility you have in any situation, the more you will succeed.

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