Build audience rapport before you speak

Confident speaker

The emcee has finished introducing you, and the audience is waiting. What next? Take these steps before you launch your presentation: 

  • Take the lectern with confidence. If you move slowly, your audience could assume that you are nervous, anxious or indifferent. Walk too quickly, though, and they will interpret your pace as overconfidence. Best bet: Approach the lectern about 25% faster than you normally walk. That conveys the impression that you are excited to be speaking to this audience and that you are eager to begin.
  • Smile as you walk. Smile at your introducer, and that person is likely to smile back. Smile at your audience, and many people will smile in return. You will have built a roomful of rapport before you ever speak a word.
  • Wait. Shake hands with the person who introduced you, and then wait until that person takes a seat before you say anything. Reason: If distractions occur during the person’s trip to his or her seat, the audience will not be distracted from your opening words.
  • Respond to your introduction. Build a bridge from the introduction to your presentation. Include a greeting for your audience and briefly engage your listeners with a little “small talk” about their location or your experience with their organization. That allows you to build further rapport so that you will have the audience on your side as you transition into your presentation.

— Adapted from “Six Surefire Actions To Take After You’re Introduced,” Allan Misch, No Sweat Speaking Ezine,

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