Public speaking is about more than reading off a script. It’s about engaging your audience and connecting with them on a deeper level. This is done by something known as audience rapport.
- Remember to show your audience you are listening to them
- Acknowledge your audience by using their words, jargon, or slang
- Properly use and express body language
- Pay attention to what the audience expects from you
- Offer up a personal story in which you aren’t perfect
- Ramp up the enthusiasm
- Try to use “we” instead of only using the word “you”
Without rapport as your core component, your entire speech or presentation will fall apart. In other words, building rapport is a must.
Here are the seven best ways to start building audience rapport the right way!
See Related: 5 Famous Public Speakers Throughout History
#1. Remember To Listen To Your Audience
Many people forget that public speaking is a conversation. And in any conversation, no one likes to be talked at instead of talked with.
Don’t make your speech or event presentation reminiscent of a high school History lecture.
Instead, try to show your audience that it is indeed a conversation that includes them! The best way to do that is by listening to your audience.
This point isn’t as abstract as it may first appear. In fact, a great way to show your audience you’re listening is by asking them some questions as soon as the presentation begins.
Even during a formal presentation, you should effectively communicate to your audience that you want to connect with them. So ask them questions like, “If you could ask me anything, what would it be?” or “What is something you want to take away from this presentation?”
Communication and feedback are vital for building rapport with your audience. Don’t forget it!
#2. Acknowledge Your Audience By Using Their Jargon
We are naturally drawn to people similar to who we are. It’s just part of our human nature. We feel comfortable with people we are similar to.
So to build rapport and a strong connection with your audience, you need to find a way to establish common ground and similar energy.
To do that, you need to use the tone, terms, and jargon that your audience is used to. Again, this will help establish you as a trusted source, not a complete stranger.
You need to know your audience. Take the time to understand exactly who they are. They’ll be able to tell if you don’t.
#3. Properly Use Body Language
Rapport building is about more than the words you say. It’s also about how you deliver them. That’s where non-verbal communication can play a significant role.
Establish eye contact, smile when you talk, and use hand gestures. Focus on connecting to your audience with more than words.
Instead, send your message and build rapport with open body language.
#4. Pay Attention To Audience Expectations
We’ve all had experiences before with getting let down. When someone doesn’t meet our expectations, it’s hard to build trust, and rapport instantly falls apart.
As a speaker, ensure you pay attention to and meet your audience’s expectations. For example, if they’re expecting humor and intrigue, don’t give them a boring presentation that puts them to sleep.
For example, I always know exactly what my audience wants whenever I step on stage. And I give it to them.
You can also look at Clean Comedians for an excellent example of this. Before speaking at a corporate event, our team of performers deep-dives into what the organization is all about and then constructs humorous, relevant content around them.
It’s usually that simple!
#5. Offer Up A Story In Which You Make A Mistake
The best way to build rapport with your audience is by telling stories and using humor. So why not combine the two?
Tell your listeners a hilarious story they can relate to that keeps them on their toes. But don’t stop there.
Your listeners don’t want to see you as a machine talking “at” them. They want to know that you’re human, just like them! Instead, tell a self-deprecating story that paints them a picture while making them laugh.
#6. Ramp Up The Enthusiasm
To build audience rapport, you need to show them that you are enthusiastic and passionate about what you will speak about. Without this outward representation of eagerness, no trust will be built!
No one wants to listen to a dull or bored speaker. So don’t be that!
#7. Try Using The Word “We” Instead Of “You”
I’ve already said this a couple of times. But I’ll repeat it because it’s that crucial.
Don’t talk “at” your listeners. Have a conversation with them.
Don’t use words that will alienate your audience and draw an imaginary line between you and them. Instead, connect with your audience and build rapport!
A common mistake many public speakers make is overusing the word “you.” And that builds a virtual wall between you and your listeners.
So, swap out the word “you” with “we.” That shows you’re on the same side as them and starts to build a solid relationship between you and your audience.
Here are some examples to help you master this small change in dialect:
YouWe need to make a bigger effort to improve yourour work-life balance.
- Jokes are fantastic in the workplace as long as
youwe respect the entire group.
Building rapport doesn’t need to be complicated. In fact, it’s easy once you get down to the basics.
Just follow these seven tips, and the rest will fall in line!
Keep Reading: 6 Reasons Why Public Speaking Is Actually Really Hard
Adam Christing has been called “The Tom Brady of emcees.” He has hosted more than 1,000 company meetings, special events, gala celebrations, and more. He is the author of several books and founder of CleanComedians.com. For more event tips, follow Adam Christing on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube.