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Two words that give your ideas instant credibility

Even the best ideas get glazed over when you don’t properly communicate them, says women’s leadership expert Selena Rezvani. 
Woman in office.
Woman in office.10'000 Hours / Getty Images

Diverse perspectives and moonshot thinking are what propel organizations forward. The need to explore new ways of doing things pushes us out of stale ruts, expands our minds, and helps us experiment with different approaches. That’s why your ideas — no matter how unconventional — deserve to be heard and seriously considered.

Here’s the thing though. Even the best ideas get glazed over when you don’t properly communicate them. Before presenting an idea, many people open with something along the lines of, “I think we should…” — which sounds like a perfectly good way to share your thoughts, right? Not so fast.

According to public speaking expert Christina Helena, “I think” makes you sound uncertain of yourself — as if your idea is a mere thought, not something based on fact. “If you know you are presenting a well-researched argument, lead with confidence and conviction,” Helena said.

I wholeheartedly agree, so I use these two words when presenting an idea: “I recommend.”

This slight shift in language will get people listening and show decision-makers that you know your stuff. Jamie Lee, executive coach for women, added that while phrases like “I think”, “I believe” or “I sense” soften our language and introduce subjectivity, using “I recommend” — followed by a concrete suggestion boosts our authority.

When you want to get one of your great ideas implemented into an initiative or project, use these tips:

Do Your Research, Then Recommend

Nancy Duarte, the CEO of a creative consultancy and training firm specializing in communication, says there are three stages to getting others to adopt a recommendation. The first is explore, in which you identify a problem or opportunity. Then, you explain and make a recommendation. Finally, you influence and move to action.

As you prepare to present your idea, be sure to understand the problem at hand clearly. Then, you can make your “I recommend…” statement. Before you open the floor to others in the conversation, back up your recommendation with cold, hard research — anything that supports your stance.

It can be helpful to reframe ideas as arguments, in the sense that you’re establishing a position based on evidence. You want people to say, “Well, I can’t argue with that! Let’s do it.” This is exactly how you’ll influence decision-makers to take your idea and implement it.

Get to the Point

Concise communication enhances credibility by showing that you are clear, focused, and thoroughly understand the topic. On the other hand, rambling or disorganized thoughts may give the impression that you lack confidence in your knowledge.

When researching and reflecting on past experiences, you may have enough information to give an hour-long monologue. But who wants to be stuck in that meeting? Pick out the most essential pieces of information, eliminate unnecessary details, and just give the main headlines or facts. You might start with “I recommend we try a new approach with our client”, not “I was thinking we could look at how we’re handling our client relationship….maybe we should rethink how we communicate with them by email, when we provide them updates, and who the point person is on our side going forward.” It’s okay to start broadly and then add more detail later. Not only does this strategy show you know what you’re talking about, but it also shows respect for others’ time and makes your message easier to remember.

Address Potential Roadblocks

Anticipating and proactively addressing potential concerns during your presentation is a great way to boost credibility. Acknowledging doubts your audience might have demonstrates foresight, preparation, and a careful comprehension of the issue you’re trying to solve.

No matter what you’re recommending, be honest about challenges, risks, or alternative viewpoints, and explain how you plan to navigate or mitigate them. Communicate that you’re aware of potential pitfalls and have more ideas for overcoming them — this builds trust in your judgment and further enhances your idea’s credibility.

By reframing your ideas as powerful arguments and making clear, confident recommendations for getting your team closer to their goal, you will present yourself as a credible resource — a problem-solving machine!

Give these two simple words and credibility-boosting tactics a try the next time you want a decision-maker to consider your game-changing idea!