Have you noticed that sometimes when someone is speaking it is easy to listen to them with your full attention and other times you switch off and think about your to do list? There tends to be a lot of shuffling in seats when the speaker hasn’t got rapport with the audience. When you get up to speak do you want to people to pay attention to you? Would you like to some tips on how to do that?
One of the things I have gained from Toastmasters is, not only do you get the practice of getting up to speak in front of an audience, but it has give you the experience of listening to many different speakers and speeches. Sometimes the 5-7 minutes goes past incredibly rapidly, other times I am aware of how uncomfortable the chair is and I start filling in the comment slip while they are still speaking.
Here are 5 ways how to build rapport:
- Pause and Smile: Before you start, stop take a moment to let the audience know you are about to speak and smile. So many people launch into their talk as soon as they take the stage. By taking a few moments before you start speaking, the audience can get ready for you to start speaking. You get people’s attention with silence! Once you have got their attention give them a big smile. Be glad that they are there and they will start warming to you. We are programmed to respond positively to a smile, it makes us smile back.
- Give them a reason to listen: The audience is inherently selfish; they will only pay attention when they believe that there is something in it for them. Start by asking them a question? Leave enough of a pause to allow them to answer the question in their head at least. You could ask them for a response. Make sure you give them a reason to listen to you at the start of your speech.
- Eye contact: So many speakers tend to focus on one or two people in the audience or have a tendency to look to one side of the room. When you speak do you make sure that you make eye contact with everyone, especially the people at the extremes of the room? A Toastmaster friend of mine practises her speeches to her teddy bears, making sure that she talks to each one of them. As an audience member when someone doesn’t look at you while you speak, you feel disconnected. It is uncomfortable to have someone stare at you while they speak; a nice leisurely glance in your direction makes you feel acknowledged.
- Use “you”: There is something magical about the word you; you always feel that it is directed at you. Using the word “you” builds rapport because the audience feels that you are speaking to them. Simply asking them a few questions, like “Do you know what I mean?” or “Has this ever happened to you?” draws the audience in. Start with your talk with your audience in mind before you start talking about yourself.
- Tell a story: People connect to stories. When we are tell a story, people can relate to it with their own personal experience and it helps them to get on board with your message. Using little stories to illustrate some of the points of a factual presentation can help the audience to connect to you better.
These are just some of the things that I have learnt from speaking and listening to other people speak. I would love to hear from you! What works for you? What have you noticed?