I called my local hair salon this morning to get an appointment with Jason, the Jimi Hendrix of blow-drying.  The woman who answered the phone informed me that Jason had moved to San Francisco. “Do you want to make an appointment with someone else?” she asked.  I said, “I’m not sure – who’s the next best blow-dryer?”  This was her response: “I, um, well, no one, um, I could, ya know, he left, well, I’m a stylist here…”

If she wanted me to book an appointment with her then she did a terrible job of it.  She under-sold herself.  She minimized her own competence.   Why?  There are only two possible reasons. The first is that she knows darn well that her skills lie elsewhere and doesn’t want to misrepresent herself.  The other is that she lacks confidence in putting herself out there.  My guess it’s the latter.

If you need to make a successful presentation, whether you are in Piscataway or Portland, sales or nursing, then you need to demonstrate competence and confidence.

Demonstrating competence stems from having a deep knowledge of your topic.  I could not stand up and show an audience how to use the “IF” function in Excel.   But I could walk you through all aspects of PowerPoint on the spot.  My competence would show up in the first two minutes.

Competence then leads to building the degree of confidence you need to put yourself out there and connect with your audience.  Researchers of rhetoric and persuasion are in agreement on the four reasons that can win the attention of your listeners and get them to consider your position:

1. They think you have credibility

2. They are won over by your evidence

3. They are convinced by your reasoning

4. Your ideas or language touched them on an emotional level

I would love to call the salon back and talk to that stylist about the four reasons why someone would book an appointment with her.  But I’ll resist and instead put my energies into finding a new salon.

– Barbara