Are You Jeopardizing Your Credibility? Avoid Vague Language And Uncited Sources

Executive Speech Coach, Sales Presentation Expert and Hall of Fame Keynote Speaker, Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE
Executive Speech Coach and Sales Presentation Expert, Patricia Fripp

As I coach individuals and sales teams on their business or sales presentations, I often remind people that, “Specificity builds credibility.

When you are delivering a sales presentation do you make claims like, “Oh, our clients always increase productivity.” ? This type of statement is not only vague and unconvincing, but also jeopardizes your credibility.

Instead, you must show your prospects how they might specifically benefit in working with you by employing true stories of success and factual outcomes from past clients. For example, you might say, “Of course, there are no guarantees. However, if we were to look at our last five major clients, they would say that within six months their productivity improved by at least 37 percent. It would be safe to say that you could look forward to those types of results.”

I share this related piece on specificity from Craig Harrison, Past District Governor of Oakland, California’s Lakeview Toastmasters on specificity. Craig explains why we should avoid citing unspecified sources.

Check Your Power Source

businessman with question mark sign on white background
Do you create doubt by failing to be specific?

You weaken your writing and speaking when you ascribe facts and statements to unspecified sources. Be bold in your statements. Take ownership of facts, statements and opinions. Every time you ascribe a statement to “people” or “others” it weakens the message. Consider these statements:

I’ve heard this system yields great results.”

Some say this product saves both money and time.”

Prevailing wisdom suggests this organization is well-run.”

Sources tell us this building material is the best in its class.”

“The most recent issue of Toastmaster magazine explains that because of technology, audience expectations of speakers are higher than ever before.”

The last example is different, correct? It packs a wallop. There is power in specificity! Vague is weak. Specific sells! Rid yourself of language that diminishes your power. Speak the language of success.

Patricia Fripp, Craig Harrison, and President of The Golden Gate Breakfast Club, Harvey Elan
Patricia Fripp, Craig Harrison, and President of The Golden Gate Breakfast Club, Harvey Elan

Thank you Craig! Specificity builds credibility in all areas of business communication.

Portions of this post were excerpted from Craig Harrison’s article “Power Speaking – Use Lessons from Sales Pros to Bolster Your Message.” More of Craig’s power speaking strategies are available in this previous blog post: Are You Weakening Your Message with Qualifiers?

Professional speaker Craig Harrison, DTM is Past District Governor of Oakland California’s Lakeview Toastmasters (2767-57). He founded Expressions of Excellence!™ to provide sales and service solutions through speaking. Visit: For more articles, tools and tips for speakers visit:

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Executive Speech Coach and Hall of Fame Keynote Speaker Patricia Fripp works with individuals and companies who realize that powerful, persuasive presentation skills give them a competitive edge.