Rapport with your audience is the secret to connecting, building trust and working together. If you’re selling that leads to more sales. If you’re managing that leads to more cohesive teams. When you don’t have rapport with your audience you are wasting everyone’s time and digging your grave. Start building rapport early in your presentation and reinforce it often while you deliver your message.
To establish stronger rapport with your audience follow these 10 powerful rapport-building techniques when you present.
1. Never tell jokes. Jokes ridicule people and always alienate someone. Jokes can offend people and push them away from you. When delivering a business presentation remember that you are not a stand-up comic.
2. Tell self-deprecating funny stories. This is the way to make your audience laugh by making fun of yourself. We trust people who have imperfect lives – like us. But don’t reveal all your faults at once – they might brand you a real loser.
3. Dress a little better than your audience so they see you as the expert but not too removed.
4. Look them in the eye. We trust you if you look at us. Don’t stare at that proverbial spot on the back wall. Look at and talk to each person in the audience – one at a time.
5. Smile. They will naturally smile back at you. If you think your audience looks miserable – remember they are a mirror of the speaker.
6. Tell stories – don’t lecture. Kids plead with their parents, ‘Tell us a story.’ They never say, ‘Give us a lecture.’ Why do you think we hate lectures – and why I slept through so many at university?
7. Speak the language of the audience. With engineers – talk slide rules, structural forces and tolerances. Whisper the word RAM to computer nerds and watch their eyes light up. When speaking to associations learn if they are called clients, members, associates, delegates or true believers.
8. Help them laugh. Every one loves to laugh. Remember the scene in Mary Poppins with the staid bankers. The old geezer died laughing. Don’t kill them, but inject some humour.
9. Talk about things they can relate to. Sales people relate to cold calls, warehousers to stock-outs, bureaucrats to policy formation, and entrepreneurs to cash flow. Remember that everyone relates to family.
10. Be yourself. Be comfortable. Prepare; but don’t worry, it’s okay to make mistakes. If you are plastic and too polished they won’t believe you.