Message from Allison: We are pleased to feature our talented trainer and coach Casey Carpenter in this blog post. Casey works with leaders at the intersection of speaking, sales, and leadership so that they “Speak it, Sell it, Lead it, and Own it!” To work with Casey, please contact us.


Do you believe that credibility and authenticity can coexist in public speaking? While working recently with a group of legal professionals, the questions arose, “How can I convey both credibility and authenticity in my presentations? Suppose I’m the person in the room with the least experience? Don’t I have to lead with my title and expertise to get buy-in?”

It was a great question and a fun one for me to respond to. Some felt that as newer professionals they didn’t automatically have the gravitas that a more experienced leader would have (I disagreed.). They felt the first thing they should say is, “I’m an attorney.” As I asked more questions about when, where, and why this was occurring, it became clear. This group was leading conversations with their book knowledge and credentials first. I didn’t hear many of them focusing on connecting with their clients.

“Let’s do this,” I said. “Share with me what you believe your role is as an attorney.” I jotted their responses on the whiteboard: “Provide expert advice. Bring thought leadership. Be the final word. Be a trusted resource. Listen and help.”

“Sure,” I said, “you want to demonstrate your credibility at some point in your discussion. And when you lead with facts and figures about your experience and your firm’s history, does it cause your audience to lean in and want more, or do they lean out? What have you seen?”

Aha! The majority said their audiences seemed to disengage. I observed, “Well it might not jazz them that your firm has been around for fifty years. What’s the benefit to your audience in that statement? What if you started by asking them their goals? Find out how the time you spend together could be most beneficial from their perspective. And what if you were able to weave in your story along the way? I don’t believe that credibility and authenticity are mutually exclusive. Show your expertise as well as who you really are…and see how well it works with your clients. Your role, first and foremost, is to connect. Once you connect, people buy YOU.”

They liked the idea, although some had been leading with facts and figures for quite some time. It would be an adjustment to change their approach. They asked me what has worked for me; what are some of the ways I’ve connected with clients?

  • Arrive prepared with a meeting agenda
  • Invite the client to contribute to the agenda so it reflects the goals they want to accomplish as well as yours
  • Start with what they want to cover
  • Put yourself in their mindset. What would you want to know if you were they?
  • What is the key issue that the meeting is seeking to resolve?
  • What unique perspective can you provide from your experience?

Some of you may be thinking that this sounds like a sales process. It is!…And you can adapt this process to an audience where you are strictly delivering information! How?

  1. Focus first on connecting with your audience. Put their needs first. What do they want to know?
  2. How can your unique perspective enliven the meeting?
  3. How can you weave in your story? What gets you jazzed about your line of work? Why do you care about your work with past clients?
  4. How have you helped them? How do you anticipate working with this client?

There’s an adage that says, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” By putting client needs first and keeping the agenda flexible, they will start to see how your approach stands out from others…and they will look forward to collaborating with you!