How do I build rapport in the first 10 seconds?
Mark asks: ‘What’s the one tip you’d suggest for helping a nervous speaker build rapport with their audience in the first 10 seconds or so of their speaking engagement?’
When you build ‘rapport’ with an audience you build mutual understanding. As the speaker you understand what the audience needs from you. As an audience member you understand the point the speaking is making.
However, ‘rapport’ doesn’t mean agreement. You do not have to get the audience to approve of or agree with you to develop rapport. When it comes to rapport understanding is all that matters.
If you are a nervous speaker, remember that the most important people in the room are your audience and concentrate your thoughts on their needs rather than how you are feeling.
If I may, I’m going to suggest the four elements to building rapport in the first ten seconds of your presentation:
1. Be authentic – Never talk about things you don’t care about. The audience will be onto your right away! If you don’t really believe your own message, speak to your manager about it prior to your presentation. If you are pitching for business inauthenticity is one of the key reasons for losing a pitch. Authenticity communicates passion. Don’t fake it, feel it and your audience will feel it too.
2. Front load it – Define your key messages and be sure to express them early in your presentation. If you’re speaking in a pitch or an expo it’s common for members of your audience to leave the room during your presentation so the traditional ‘tell a story’ approach won’t work! Find a way to make your point strongly as early in your presentation as you can.
3. Speak powerfully – Think very carefully about how you’re going to express yourself in your first few sentences. Make a strong, courageous statement and let it hang in the air for a moment or two. Show the audience that you are a person of courage and conviction. They may not agree with what you say but they will understand and respect you.
4. Say something jarring – If you say what people expect you to say they’ll switch off. Dare to say something a little controversial and unexpected (not offensive). Make the audience feel a little bit uncomfortable by showing them that you understand what sort of people they are (and how they would like to be perceived) and then introduce the idea that they don’t quite meet that standard in some way. Remember that rapport is not about agreement, it’s about understanding. Be clear but be bold. Take a risk.