How to Build Rapport With Your Audience

12 Dec 2009

How to Build Rapport With Your Audience

What happens when you notice dog poo in front of you?

Yes, I know; it’s disgusting and smelly and if you’re like me, you’ll make a wide detour so you don’t have anything to do with it!

How to Build Rapport With Your Audience

Some presenters have the same effect on their audiences

No, they’re not smelly and disgusting. But they leave their audiences wanting to make a wide detour and have nothing to do with them!

How do they do this?

They either fail to build rapport with their audience or they break the rapport they’d gained.

Rapport is a sense of trust; feeling that you have a connection with someone or that you’re tuned into the same wavelength. It’s a kind of mutual respect.

Gaining and maintaining rapport is vital

It’s been proven that you’re more likely to be influenced by someone you respect. So if you want to be an influential speaker, it makes sense to build rapport with your audience and then keep that rapport throughout the presentation.

The consequences of not achieving or breaking rapport can be dire
Audiences may:
  • Adopt ‘shut off’ postures and question everything you say (if not out loud, at least in their heads).
  • Find fault with what you say.
  • Talk between themselves or leave and tell others how bad you were.
  • Refuse or only reluctantly engage in any activities.

In other words, a speakers nightmare!

OK – time to wake up!

Here are 10 simple ways that you can build rapport with your audience:
  1. Show confidence. If you’re not confident why should they trust what you have to say? You display confidence by your upright and open, steady posture. A commanding voice tone is important as a way to capture the audiences’ attention.
  2. Do your homework. Find out about the audience you’re presenting to and any issues they might have. Knowing about your audience makes it easier for you to relate to them.
  3. Let your enthusiasm shine through your words. Enthusiasm will help you to naturally animate your presentation.
  4. Get them to do something and do it with them (for example, stand up and meet someone new).
  5. Make eye contact with people during your presentation. If it’s a large audience pick people at different points in the venue and make eye contact with them.
  6. Avoid lecterns, desks and anything else that blocks your direct access to the audience. Obstacles make it more difficult to build rapport.
  7. Use language they understand. If you introduce a new term, explain it immediately.
  8. Move – but not too much! Move deliberately rather than fidgeting, shaking or shuffling from one foot to another.
  9. Speak up and be yourself!
  10. Avoid notes. As soon as you look down, your voice loses its pitch and intensity. You break eye contact and thus rapport. If you’re worried about losing your place, a mind map with a few key words will give you enough confidence to complete your talk without disengaging from your listeners.
Change your audience reaction

Follow these rapport building tips and instead of giving you a wide berth, your audience will be swarming around you like flies.

What do you want to do now?