One popular piece of advice that came from a lot of sales training seminars in the 80s was to copy everything you see the other person doing. If theylean back in their chair, then you lean back. If they fold their arms, so do you.
To some extent, mimicking can work because rapport can be built by nonverbally matching the other person. But most of the time I see people overdoing it. The person they’re speaking with notices that their every move is being watched and feels self-conscious all of a sudden. Then the mirroring becomes off-putting and feels very much like a sleazy sales tactic.
It’s entirely possible to build a rapport with your audience without copying everything they’re doing. It all comes down to a few key things:
1. NOBODY CARES ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT TO SAY
What they really care about is what they need to hear.
If you can give people the information they need from start to finish, in the right order, they’ll be compelled to listen and feel connected with you.
This means adapting what you’re saying and how you’re saying it.
Aristotle gave us a format for this when he was writing speeches for Alexander the Great. He came up with the sequence of ethos, pathos, and logos.
You start off with ethos, which is effectively your credibility. You set up your context and background so that people gain an understanding of who you are and why they may benefit from listening to you.
Then you move onto the pathos, or the emotional connection. You’re telling the audience what they’re going to gain by listening to you and showing that you care about giving them value.
Finally, you proceed to logos, which is the logic portion. Because at this point, your audience’s logical mind will be thinking, “Okay, I’m ready for it, hit me with the information.”
In this way, you’ll be connecting with people by tapping into how their brain is built: trust, emotion, and logic.
2. ADAPT TO THEIR NEEDS
Aside from arranging your presentation in a way that appeals to your audience’s natural brain, you’ll also have to adapt to their needs.
This means ignoring your own self-conscious worries or anxieties. When you go into a meeting, a conversation, or a presentation, you should completely focus on who this person is and what they need from you.
One of the ways you can adapt is by noting a person’s ‘social style’.
For example, they might be a ‘driver,’ or someone who cares mostly about the big picture. When talking with you, ‘drivers’ want to know what the effect will be on the bottom line for the company, and what this will mean for them three years from now. They like to drive the conversation forward.
Conversely, someone may be an ‘analyst’. They want to have all the details behind your points as you’re making them.
Adapting to a person’s social style is a way of making sure you feel a stronger connection with them. You don’t have to abandon yourself or your personality, but you can adjust it for your audience.
3. REMEMBER HOW YOU WANT THEM TO FEEL
The final piece for connecting with your audience is having a fine-tuned intention.
You should know exactly how you want people to feel at the end of your conversation, meeting, or pitch.
Focus everything you’re doing — your words, your body language, your voice, all of your intention — toward a feeling you want people to have as they leave.
This will help you to feel less self-conscious too, by placing all of your focus on the people in front of you and serving them as best you can.
To learn more about how we can help you please contact our team.