It appears that many professional communicators such as presenters or trainers worry about building and maintaining rapport with their audience in a presentation or training course. While there are many ways to build rapport, there are a couple of simple techniques that can be used that can be used to reach that objective.
We can use either verbal or non-verbal communication to help us achieve our objective.
A common non-verbal approach to obtaining rapport is that used, for example, by the M.Cs of the “Cirque de Soleil” shows or Steve Jobs. The MC (Master of Ceremonies), without speaking, directs his gaze, orientation and proximity to one section of the audience, slowly raises his hands above his head and starts clapping slowly, the audience usually immediately start to do the same thing so the MC starts clapping faster and the audience follow his lead and start laughing at the same time. Rapport objective achieved! This is often called “reflective” communication! The MC then moves on to the next section and starts clapping again, Since they have already seen what is expected, and are primed to respond, the audience start clapping and, once again, rapport is achieved in even less time. To further enhance the rapport, the MC starts a “non-verbal battle” between the two sections by starting with his arms extended at waist height and slowly raising them higher, gets the audience to clap louder and louder and then he moves on to the other sections in the site and very quickly has the whole audience participating together which indicates that everyone is “with” him and, by implication and extension, the rest of the cast.
It is interesting to note that this may also help to increase the degree of Neural Coupling between all the parties involved by stimulating the production of Dopamine which can make an emotionally charged event easier to remember & with greater accuracy. There are indications that this also induces elements of Neural mirroring (of Non-verbal communication or behaviour)
At the start and end of every act, the performers simulate his initial rapport gestures to renew or increase the rapport with the audience. This become “meaningful repetition” and supports and reinforces the pleasurable feelings created by rapport.
Many experienced presenters like to use different verbal techniques once rapport has been obtained. They tend to use communication designed to elicit an “echoic” response from the audience by saying things like: “Isn´t this great”, “fantastic”, “Wow”, “Cool!”, etc., which is reinforced by simultaneous congruent non-verbal communication which usually gets reflected back to them via some kind of confirmatory, or echoic, response from the audience. This was a technique that Steve Jobs used exceptionally well.
Changing the emotional state of the Audience.
When we are in a situation where the presenter or trainer is not the first person to control the communicative activity, the audience might be bored, tired or unmotivated so this might be the moment to do a bit of “Direct rapport”
The presenter needs to ensure that the audience are re-energized by doing something totally different and unexpected. One way to do this would be by saying:
“We have been sitting for a while. Let’s do something different. Everyone please stand up. Turn your body to the left like this (presenter does it) Continue with whatever additional instructions for 1-2 minutes. Finish with something humourous. (The actual instructions are much less important than the fact that the presenter instructs and the audience responds!)
The benefits of using this technique include:
– Making the audience stand up, means you are changing their physiology which means that you are changing their current mind set. Simply put: whenever you see undesired body language, change their posture and you change their mind.
– Creating “Directed rapport” show that they are willing to be “controlled” by the speaker.
– Helping to identify possible resistance. Anyone who does not respond appropriately – with the group – may prove to be negative or resistant to what follows.
– Giving instructions which are then followed means that they have ceded control and this means that you have achieved rapport you desire.
These are just some of the techniques that can be used to achieve rapport.
Your constructive feedback would be appreciated.
© Ian Brownlee, Madrid, Spain, 21st December, 2017. All rights reserved.