I was inspired to write this post after seeing a similar post on Lisa Braithwaite’s Speak Schmeak and remembering some of my own frustrations with this area. A lot of speakers I’ve seen this past year seem to have developed the “habit” of quoting information without citing any sources.
As a result I’ve developed the expression “who said that?” or “where’s that written?” I want proof! For instance, the self improvement industry. I’ll start off by saying that I love self improvement. I have read lots of books and attended a number of great workshops on how to help me improve certain areas of my life. But I’ve noticed that, lately, there’s a lot of wish-washy references made.
For example, with the popularity of ideas like The Law of Attraction (LOA) you hear expressions like “Quantum Physics says that…” or “Science tells us…?” This leads me to ask “What science? Where is that written? Where’s your evidence?” It’s not just with LOA either, I’ve heard vague expressions like this about other topics too. A lot of the time the sources failed to get cited and I failed to be inspired or motivated to action. For me, we lose credibility as speakers if we cannot back up what we’re saying.
You cannot just say “because science says so” (or whatever you’re referencing) as there will always be someone in the audience like me who wants to learn more, so naturally wants to know that source. It may take a little more time for us to say; “in an article printed in the New Scientist…”, but I believe it’s worth it in the long run.
We owe it to out audiences!
More importantly if you’re hired to deliver a motivational speech to scientists you will lose ALL credibility if you cannot back up what you’re saying. As Lisa says on her blog post, please also make sure the facts that you give us are correct and not taken out of context and manipulated in order to back up your point.
Be specific and be honest – it will help take you a long way.