If you’ve done any presenting at all you can probably think of moments when you could feel that your audience was completely absorbed by what you were saying. Most of us unfortunately have also had the experience of talking to an audience when we just couldn’t seem to make any connection.
When you have a good connection with your audience you are in rapport. You feel good about the presentation, the audience enjoys it and you are more than likely to achieve your objective. If you are not in rapport with your audience, you might as well be talking to yourself! The ability to develop rapport with an audience is what separates the memorable presenter from the merely competent. There are a number of ways to do it.
Lay the foundation for developing rapport by planning every presentation so you give your audience the information it needs and is interested in. When an audience feels you are aware of its concerns and are addressing its needs, you are well on your way to getting into rapport.
Confirm that you understand and can relate to the needs and concerns of the audience in the way you talk. Choose whether it is best to be conversational or formal; use the jargon that the audience uses; and hold their interest by putting variety into your voice and presentation style.
The layout of a venue can determine how easily you connect with an audience. You can choose to sit or stand, use a podium, and stay behind a computer or projector. At each presentation, check that the layout assists you in connecting with the audience.
At a more superficial level, the way in which you dress can also influence rapport. It would be wise to wear your newest, best fitting business suit for a presentation to a group of investment bankers. By contrast, wearing work boots and jeans when you are talking to an informal group of blue collar workers can be just right.
The more you connect with an audience, the more easily you will get your message across. Never underestimate the importance of developing rapport.