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Rapport

I want to give you an illustration of how important building rapport with your audience is. For example, let's say that you have taken some public speaking training, learned every aspect of public speaking but technically you are still a lousy presenter, you can still be great on the stage. By lousy, I mean that you mess up everything technically. You dress unprofessional, your grammar and speech are terrible and you might have dandruff.

Do not think for a moment that I want you to be this type of presenter. In fact, thats why I offer public speaking training to help you not be this way.  But I want you to see the bigger picture. If you give really great information that is targeted to the needs of your audience, and you do the things that build up rapport, but fall short technically you can still have a great effective presentation.

Remember, I am not giving you an out from becoming technically better as a presenter. I am just saying that if your information is lousy it does not make much difference how smooth you are with what you say. Yes, there are some people that slide by because they are entertaining, but substance and giving people useful information should always come first.

When planning your speaking engagement think about giving the audience immediately usable information. They will also need a long term plan, but if you give people something usable and an action plan that they can get excited about you will have done half your job already.

Half my job? ... Yes, the other half is to build rapport with the audience. Having rapport with your audience is vitally important to show them that you care about them and get them to like you. Showing them you care is an important part of what you will learn in your public speaking training.

Rapport

The big picture is that you must build rapport with an audience for them to get the message. I think of rapport as when the audience trusts you and feels that you care about them. Here are some ways you can build that trust and caring atmosphere:

Trust

  • Phone interview a cross section of audience members prior to your presentation. I cannot tell you how great this has worked for me over the years. People cannot wait to meet you and they tell others about the call. This really screams, 'I care about you!'
  • Know what you are talking about and admit it when you don't. BS will not cut it with the sophisticated audiences of today.
  • Have some credentials. Do something, write something, record something, help someone. i.e., do something more than talk.
  • Do everything you say you are going to do before the program, and do it in a helpful and timely manner.
  • The meeting organizer in most cases will tell the group, or let it be known that you walk your talk. Even if he or she does not, you will feel great about the way you handle things and it will show.
  • Make yourself accessible. As long as you are good on the platform, meeting planners love it when you come early and stay late, so that you can meet members of the audience.

Offer free follow up for the audience members via email or fax. If you are too busy to actually answer personally, have an assistant follow up with them. Do not brush this suggestion off too lightly, it is one of the main methods I use to deeply penetrate an organization. The people that do follow up for you are 'angels' in the company. They will tell you of other events or problems where you might be able to help.

So, you can be 'lousy' technically if you want to, but make sure the audience trusts you and build rapport and you will have a much better chance that your message gets through.

 

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