Should You Toot Your Own Horn when Speaking?

Should you toot your own horn when speaking?

The answer is yes. However, it’s a must to do it without hitting a sour note with your audience.


Why is it important to do?

It’s important because your audience has the following question in their minds when you get up to speak:

Why should I listen to this speaker?

In other words, your audience needs to know how you’ve earned the right to speak to them. What credibility do you have? Don’t get me wrong, if your stories and messages are interesting, they will listen. However, throughout the speech, you will gain greater and greater influence once they understand, bit by bit, how you’ve walked your own talk and utilized the tools you are now sharing with them. They need to know what you’ve done so they can care about what you share.

5 Tooting Tools to build credibility without hitting a sour note

1. Spread it out

I remember back when I first started with the National Seminars Group (NSG). Before my first training session, I was trained for two days on NSG’s way of doing things. I tried to start my practice training session by stating my accolades in an attempt to build credibility. My trainer said, “Craig, don’t try to get all of your accolades across at the beginning, because that will turn your audience off. Instead, spread it over the two days.” I never forgot that.

She was absolutely right. If you bunch up your accolades and list one after the other, your audience will feel like you’re lifting yourself above them. Instead, it’s important to mention an accolade only when it relates to the point you’re about to make. For example, if the third point in my speech is “Stay away from negative people,” that’s when I might mention a good result I achieved in life (such as winning Salesperson of the year 3 times in 4 years) because I did it by avoiding negative people. The key is that I don’t bring up the accolade until I bring up the relevant point. And because your points are spread throughout your speech, your accolades will automatically follow suit.

2. Put it in another character’s words

Instead of saying something like, “I won Manager of the Year for the National Small Business Council,” I could put that into another character’s words within my story. I learned this from Patricia Fripp.

I like to do this with a question. For example, I could say, “My friend Karen once asked me, ‘Craig, what went into becoming the Manager of the Year for the National Small Business Council? What do you attribute that to?’” With that set up, I can say, “Well, Karen, I learned the most important tool there is to know when it comes to leading people. It’s…” So I set up the tool with the toot. This becomes organic and meaningful to the point rather than thrown in with an egotistical intention.


3. Share at least one failure first

One way to avoid hitting a sour note with your toot is to share at least one failure before you share the related success. Your audience can now identify with your failure and later be excited about how you turned it into a success. They will be on your side.   

Another option is to share the failure and the toot at the same time. For example, when I speak to sales groups, I often share this quick mixture of  tooting and failing. Click below to hear the 44-second audio.

[audio:|titles=My colleague ]

When you share the toot and the failure together, your audience knows that you realize it is the process (i.e. avoiding negative people) that helped you accomplish what you did.


4. Be Grateful in your Delivery

As you know, speaking is a combination of structure, content, and delivery. Delivery plays a big role in how your toot comes across. If you deliver it as if you always knew you were entitled to achieve your accomplishment, it will hit a sour note. However, if you deliver it as if you are grateful and maybe even surprised at the success, it will come across as something we can celebrate with you.  And we will!


5. Put the process, not the person, on a pedestal

Don’t toot about yourself as much as you toot about the processes you’ve uncovered. For example, in the audio you heard about my colleague Fred, I then go on to inform my audience that it was hanging around positive people that helped me reach my sales success. It wasn’t me, it was the process. Put the process, not the person, on a pedestal.


Final thoughts:

Tooting your own horn can come across either as a sour note or beautiful music. If you prefer the latter, then put these 5 Tooting Tools to work for you.

Craig Valentine

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