Frank Sinatra frequently shows in my public speaking course, specifically when we get to talk about the voice; what a better example since that was also his nickname?  One of his most popular songs gives us also another reason to mention him. Theme from New York New York, in the Sinatra version, towards the end says:

If I can make it there, I’m gonna make it anywhere,

(Liza Minelli’s, is just slightly different).

That sentence is known as the Sinatra test in public speaking. It means gaining credibility in public speaking by using a very challenging reference. If you manage to succeed in the toughest conditions, this can act as a guarantee for your next occasions. The audience is more likely to believe and trust your skills or capabilities.

If you are presenting a product, a solution, or your job, you can use the Sinatra test to grasp public trust. Tell them your most important and challenging success, the one that will make them think: “If that works there, then surely it should work also for me” or “If it did work in that company, it could work also in mine!”

Just make sure that the audience can understand the reference. Is it known to them? Do you need to add some detail, or context, to better qualify it?  If you are assessing the quality of a product for mountain ascensions, and your reference is that it went up Mt. Everest it’s easy to imagine that everyone will get it. If you just say that is normally used by Chhurim is not obvious if the audience can immediately understand it (it depends on the audience, of course).

What is your Sinatra test? Pick up your most striking example and think how you can insert it into your presentations to gain credibility.