Non-Negotiable Rule #3 Build Rapport with The Audience

The 3rd non-negotiable rule of public speaking is to build rapid rapport with our audience. Building rapid rapport should happen within the first 5 minutes. It is not about getting your speech going and then building rapport as you go along. Today, speakers need to build audience rapport immediately.

Here is how you can do it quickly and easily. If you are speaking in the virtual world, acknowledge people as soon as they come into the virtual space. Welcome them by name (as you will see their name printed on the screen or in the participant list). When you are speaking in person, you also want to acknowledge people by name (especially if they are wearing a name badge). Call them by name from the stage and let them know you are glad they are here. You can say, “Hi Mary. How are you doing? I’m so glad you’re here.” You do not have to go along a whole row of people and call out everyone’s name. When you acknowledge one audience member publicly, everyone lives vicariously through that one person and they feel special and appreciated.

If it is a live event, go to the meeting early and meet 5 or 6 people. Then call them by name when you are on stage. This really does cover the entire audience.

Engage Your Audience to Build Rapport

Another way to build rapid rapport is to ask questions and get your audience involved early on. Find out what they want as it pertains to your topic. Also, remember to say thank you for asking the question. For example, “That is a great question, thank you for asking it.”

Build rapport by asking for a volunteer to come up to the stage. This works both on the live and virtual stage. You may want to conduct a hot seat with them or a rapid-fire question-and-answer session. Anyway you can help or coach them through what you are teaching will work. Make sure you show your appreciation for their participation by making them look and feel good. Here again, the entire audience feels the love you are giving to the person in the spotlight.

The opposite is also true. Do not make your volunteer feel uncomfortable when they volunteer by putting them in an uncomfortable position. Or by forcing someone who does not want to volunteer, to volunteer. Just like in the previous blog, when the speaker yelled from the stage at the event planner and said that he is not stopping even though he was way over his speaking time. The audience felt the blow! Consequently, he was not invited back because he was rude to the event planner and to the audience. Always be gracious and kind. Remember, when you love on your audience, they will love you back. You can even build rapport with a virtual audience.

Non-negotiable Rule #4: Over Deliver without Overwhelming

The 4th non-negotiable rule of public speaking is to overdeliver without overwhelming. This means to deliver your best information and teaching points without turning on the fire hose and drowning them. You want to deliver the right amount of content for the time you have, the audience and what they can handle.

Here is a perfect example: Several years ago, I got the opportunity to speak to a group of mediators. I had never spoken to mediators before. So, I did my due diligence and visited a meeting the month before. They met at the Santa Monica Library and there was no easy way to get there. The meeting was scheduled for the worse time imaginable, 6:00 P.M. I fought through the Los Angeles commute traffic to get there. Once I arrived and walked into the meeting, I knew we were in trouble when I saw the title of the talk on his PowerPoint slide: “101 Ways to Market Your Mediation Business.” Sure enough, this speaker turned on the firehose. He started sharing a laundry list of marketing tips and never took the time to go deep or teach how to implement them. He just kept firing off the list one after another and they landed on the audience like a constant barrage of torpedoes. What was worse is that he never got through the entire list of 101 marketing tips. As his hour of speaking time ran out, the organizer asked him to finish up and leave the stage. He kept on talking. Next, over the loudspeaker, we heard someone say, “The library is closing in two minutes.” Everyone panicked and got up and left. He never did get to his close. The part in his speech that would have bought him more business. Lesson to learn, do not go overtime because you have too much content. The audience cannot absorb it, process it, or enjoy it. It just becomes too overwhelming.

Instead, go deep with each teaching point and give your audience a sense of value.

For example, my simple formula for going deep is:
1. Share the concept
2. Explain the idea
3. Give examples
4. Share the experience

To share the experience, depending on your allotted speaking time, you can include audience participation, such as hot seats, breakouts session, case studies, meditations, demonstrations, or any other creative way to teach your audience through experiential learning.