I was sitting outside of a café when I overheard two older men standing and arguing over some event that happened a few days earlier. As I remember, one was convinced that a hunter used a gun to bring down a huge deer and the other was adamant that he used a bow.
The bickering went on for several minutes until something really interesting happened. The bald gentleman made a comment, they both became quiet, and sat back down at their outdoor cafe table.
So, what did the bald man say that put an end to their lively debate?
He shouted, “Well, I know I’m right because I read it in the paper.”
Bam. Boom. Checkmate.
“Okay,” his fellow debater agreed. And just like that, the argument was over.
Here’s the deal: things in print tend to be more believable than those that are not. Perhaps this phenomenon has to do with the fact that our spoken words can get twisted when repeated enough. Or, maybe it stems from most religions having printed sacred texts. Hey, some transactions, like those in real estate aren’t legally binding until they are in writing. Whatever the reasons, we still believe what we read in print.
Okay, so what?
Well, here’s the thing: by grabbing a sheet of paper, book, or folded magazine and reading a quote or portion of an article or book to your audience during a presentation or media interview, your credibility rises.
This technique is especially effective when offering a startling statistic or making a compelling point.
For example, I attended a presentation where an executive from the NFL Players Association grabbed a Sports Illustrated issue and read a statistic directly from the magazine. He shared how the financial plight of the professional football player after his career ends is often bleak. Now, had he quoted the statistic without referring to the article, the effect would have been different, to say the least. I would say that it wouldn’t have been as effective.
To put it simply, him holding the magazine and reading from it was powerful.
Here’s the psychology behind the whole thing: See, by grabbing and reading from Sports Illustrated, he was, in affect, borrowing the credibility of the magazine and writer. He was essentially saying, “See, I didn’t make this stuff up. It’s right here in print.”
Okay, so, here’s what I recommend: begin collecting quotes, articles and highlighted book passages specifically for presentation and interview purposes.
Now, decide when and where you will infuse this bit of credibility into your presentations or interviews. This is why preparation is so important.
Finally, practice reading what you see in print. Emphasize certain facts, passages, or statistics. Soon, you will own the room.