Rating the Debates with the DARE Trust Scorecard

DARE trust scorecard

With presidential debates and election season in full swing, there is no wonder that the topic of building trust and rapport with audiences is in the spotlight. Regardless of your political affiliation, one underlying truth is evident: great communicators are able to draw audiences in and connect with them by building trust. Trust is earned, over time, when speakers communicate in a way that is congruent with who they are and what they believe. It is through building trust, that true information sharing and collaboration can occur.

As a real-world trust exercise, we invite you to use the DARE trust scorecard when considering the presidential candidate of your choice. During their next speaking engagement, have this list handy and see how their communication skills enhance (or reduce) their ability to build trust with their audience.

Directions: Read each trust earner before evaluating a speaker. During a talk, when a trust earner attribute is observed, give the speaker one point. At the end of the talk, add the points to determine the speaker’s total DARE trust score.

  • Displays empathy – This is most evident when a speaker identifies the audience’s pain points and conveys a genuine sense of compassion and dedication to resolve these pains.
  • Portrays a sense of sincerity – The audience’s needs and wants should drive the speaker’s overall message. Effective communicators exhibit this trust earning quality by focusing more on “you” and “we” and less on “I” and “me”.
  • Embodies authenticity – Speakers who exude a multi-faceted personality often gain trust quickly. Audiences tend to gravitate to speakers who are equally professional and human – not afraid to infuse a sense of thoughtfulness, or humor in their talk, when appropriate.
  • Values mutual respect – Audiences want to be heard, appreciated, and thanked for their time and support. Speakers who are aware of the audience’s needs, wants, and interests are able to connect, engage, and build rapport with each talk.
  • Engages in active listening – This involves more than just being quiet. Speakers who are able to build trust, listen intentionally to their audiences, taking note of concerns and experiences.
  • Illustrates honesty – Effective communicators are able to acknowledge openly when they have made a mistake or not fulfilled a responsibility. This willingness to show vulnerability and accountability is key in gaining any audience’s trust.
  • Maintains direct eye contact – Communicators that cannot look directly into their audience’s eyes place their ability to be trusted in jeopardy. Although eye contact is not a guarantee of integrity or honesty, it does, however, convey a sense of commitment and authority.
  • Approaches audiences with openness – This includes acknowledging shortcomings, sharing personal experiences that have shaped their values, and asking for feedback for improvement.
  • Waits to speak – Interrupting others is a significant trust violation! Master communicators understand that listening and having patience is just as important as delivering an engaging, and riveting message.
  • Admits shortcomings – The most effective communicators are not afraid to admit when they do not have an answer to a question. Being able to self-reflect and ask for time to explore a thought or idea is a sign to audiences that a speaker is thoughtful and attentive.

Score Analysis

8 – 10 points: Superior trust earner – This speaker is very proficient with building trust with an audience. They are easily trusted and seek out additional opportunities to validate and build this trust with their audiences.

5 – 7 points: Rising trust earner – This speaker is able to build trust with an audience, but may require multiple exposures and proof of their ability to follow through with promises and commitments.

0 – 4 points: Low trust earner – This speaker has significant communication challenges that prevent audiences from connecting with and trusting the speaker.