THIS WILL SURPRISE YOU (especially if you know me) You can be a lousy public speaker and still be great on the speaking platform. By lousy, I mean that technically you do everything wrong. You look terrible. Your grammar and diction stink and you might have dandruff.

Do not think for a moment that I want you to be these terrible things. In fact, I sell videos teaching you NOT to be pitiful technically when you present. What I want you to see is the bigger picture. If you give really great information that is targeted to the needs of the audience, and you do the things that build rapport, you can still hit a home run.

Again, do not think I am not giving you an excuse to forget about getting better technically as a public speaker. I am just saying that if your information is lousy it does not make much difference how smooth you are at your public speaking engagements. Yes, there are some people that slide by because they are entertaining, but substance and helping people come first.

When planning your public speaking engagement think about giving the audience immediately usable information. Yes, they may need a long term plan, but if you give people something usable and and action plan that they can get excited about you will have done half your job.

Half my job? … Yes, the other half is to build rapport with the attendees. This does not necessarily mean that they like you. This means you have done what is necessary to make sure they trust in what you have to say and they feel you care about them.

Public Speaking Rapport

I told you above that it was OK to stink up the stage by being a lousy presenter. Again, I must remind you that I am not encouraging this. I want you to get better technically, so that your message has a better chance of getting through. The big picture is that you must build rapport with an audience for them to get the message.

My definition of rapport is that the audience members trust you and that they feel you care about them. Here are some ways to build that trust and caring atmosphere:

Trust

  • Know what you are talking about and admit it when you don’t. BS will not cut it with the sophisticated audiences of today.
  • Have some credentials. Do something, write something, record something, help someone. i.e., do something more than talk.
  • Do everything you say you are going to do before the program, and do it in a helpful and timely manner. The meeting organizer in most cases will tell the group, or let it be known that you walk your talk. Even if he or she does not, you will feel great about the way you handle things and it will show.

Rapport

  • Phone interview a cross section of audience members prior to your speaking engagement. I cannot tell you how wonderfully this has worked for me over the years. People cannot wait to meet you and they tell others about the call. This really screams, ‘I care about you!’
  • Make yourself accessible. As long as you are good on the platform, meeting planners love it when you come early and stay late … NOTE: If you bomb get out quick hahahaha
  • Offer free follow up for the audience members via email or fax. If you are too busy to actually answer personally, have an assistant follow up. Do not brush this suggestion off too lightly. This is one of the main methods to deeply penetrate an organization. The people that do follow up for you are ‘angels’ in the company. They will tell you of other events or problems where you might be able to help.

So, you can be ‘lousy’ if you want to, but make sure the audience trusts you and build rapport and you will have a much better chance that your message gets through.

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