David Christian at TED - well delivered talk - with passion, imagery and purpose.
Finishes with an emotional close.

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Build Rapport Rapidly

Build rapport when speaking

If you want to persuade people you first need to establish rapport. The sooner you build rapport with your audience, the sooner they will listen to your ideas. The stronger the rapport, the more they will like and trust you.

What is Rapport?

You have rapport with a person when you both see things the same way, which means they believe that you understand them and see things their way.

If you want to persuade them to see things your way, you must first demonstrate that you see things from their position. Then you might be able to shift their perspective.

How can you build rapport rapidly?

Recognize their Perspective

Point out the challenges and frustrations that they face. You might need to do some research to better understand your audience. The fastest way to connect with your audience is to acknowledge their pain. Everyone wants appreciation of their hardships.

Are they sales people who face cold calling, rising quotas and longer sales cycles? Are they professionals striving for more respect from other colleagues? Are they IT managers juggling impossible demands from customer service and operations?

After you have acknowledged their pain, they might accept that you are in their camp. The next thing to do is to remind them of their strengths, valuable contributions and importance to their organizations. Shift the outlook from negative to positive.

These things will establish a growing rapport with your audience. You’ll notice heads nodding in agreement and a keener interest in your message.

Relate Common Experience

Relate an example about how you endured a similar situation. This goes beyond understanding. There is nothing like common experience (especially pain) to bring people together. This principle is captured in the old expression, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

Unmask the Elephant in the Room

State the obvious truth that everyone knows but avoids saying out loud. Similarly, you might ask the unasked questions that prey on everyone’s mind. By giving voice to their repressed thoughts and feelings you become accepted as their friend and perceived as a leader.
Build rapport with your audience by recognizing the view from their perspective to show that you are with them. Then they will be more willing to listen to you and accept your message.

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Slow down when you speak

Slow down when speaking
Recently, I heard a few speakers who spoke too fast. How fast?  So fast, that I stopped listening.  When I mentioned this to two of them, they both responded with, “I know, I’ve been told that before.”

They knew they spoke too fast - yet they continued to annoy listeners with their rapid-fire pace. Perhaps they felt unable to control it or that it wasn’t worth the effort.

Speaking too quickly can sabotage your presentation.

Why should you speak slower?

  •     You will sound more confident
  •     You can more clearly enunciate your words
  •     When you speak slower we can better hear your words
  •     Your voice will be deeper in tone and thus more pleasant to listen to
  •     You can breathe more regularly and thus feel less exhausted
  •     You have more time to think about your words and speak more intelligently
  •     The audience will have time to absorb and think about your message

How can you slow down? Here are three methods.

Insert more pauses

The pauses between your sprints will give us that thinking time and a short respite. You might still talk rapidly but the pauses will offer the necessary contrast between your short sprints.

You can use this technique immediately with little effort.

Say less

Strip out the un-necessary words. When people speak fast they tend to use more filler words and cliché phrases. Your important message could easily be lost in the noise. Some people speak rapidly because they are attempting to say too much.

This technique requires you to think and prepare before you speak. You’ll sound more intelligent and confident when you deliver a powerful message with less words.

Rehearse speaking slower

Read a section of text out loud while timing yourself. Note the time. Then repeat the exercise talking as fast as you can. Note the time again. Do it one more time but before you start take a couple of slow deep breaths. Envision a person across from you listening intently to your words. Then read out loud again in a more relaxed manner. Compare the times.

Repeat this exercise over a week. Notice how easier it becomes to speak slower. You can slow down if you rehearse.

This third approach takes more effort but rewards you with the long term benefit. Recognize that you can control your speaking pace and become comfortable with setting the optimum speed.

Start with any one of the above methods to slow down when you speak. Eventually try all three.

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Four ways to reach the visual learners in your audience

Visual Learning

The majority of people are visual learners. This means they need to see it before they understand your message and believe it.

In my experience most people need to see some part of your message to make it stick. The question is “How do they see it?”

Three important clarifications

  1. Visual means the images that we process in the visual cortex of the brain. 
  2. The eye is only one source of visual input. 
  3. Not everything seen by the eye is processed in the visual cortex.

Here are four ways to convey visual messages to your audience.

Display images on the screen
Use PowerPoint or other software to display photos, drawings, diagrams, charts, sketches, cartoons or video.  These are images.

The most common mistake is putting text on a slide and believing that is visual. Text on a slide is not a visual. It’s simply text which is processed in a different part of the brain (Wernicke’s Area).

Some speakers don’t really care if it’s visual. They blatantly use text slides as their notes – not to help the audience.

Tell Colorful Stories
I believe that this is the most effective way to convey visuals. Tell your stories effectively and you plant strong visuals into the minds of your audience. Test the effectiveness of your stories by asking people what they saw. Tell colorful stories and people will always see your message.

Your Body Language
The most important visual in the room could be you. Your dress, posture, movement and gestures transmit powerful messages about your passion, credibility and confidence. Those feelings are the foundations of persuading your audience to act. Your audience will often remember an image of you that either supports your message or destroys it.

Use Props

Steve Jobs pulled the MacBook Air out of an envelope for the visual imagery. Magicians use props to misdirect attention. You might use a model to illustrate your project. I admired a presenter as he bounced a basketball to transition to his talk about computer animation.  An abstract concept can often be clarified with the help of a simple prop.

When preparing your presentation, plan how you will visually convey the most important message.

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Come on. Speed it Up!

Speak faster?
Imagine that you are presenting to a group. You are speaking at a moderate pace because you want to be understood. You are using pauses because you learned that is an effective way to create drama in your presentation.

You think that you are doing well with your presentation. Then someone says, “Hey! Can you speed this up?” And you notice a few other people nodding their heads in agreement.

You might feel temped to speak faster. Don’t do that. That is not what they meant.

Most likely, what they are really saying is, “I get it. I’m with you. What’s the next step?  Let’s move on.”

A normal flow to a presentation is to first explain the background, the issues and the goal. Then you might talk about the history of your organization. Perhaps you are trying to bring every uninformed person up to speed before you address the point of your presentation.

So if one or a few people say, “Let’s speed it up” what they really mean is “Yeah, we know that. What do you suggest? How do we solve this?”

They are not saying “speak faster”. They are saying, “leave some of this boring stuff out.”

I experienced this frustration when I attended a workshop on the topic of humor. The speaker was a qualified humor writer. I was there to learn “how” to be funnier when I speak. It was a conference about humor, which suggests that people were there because they already understood the need for humor.

Yet the presenter wasted the first half of the 60-minute session explaining “why” humor was important to a presentation. I put my hand up and asked him to speed it up – when what I really meant was “Skip the crap. We already know that it’s important. Start talking about how to do it.”

Unfortunately he ignored my request and his time ran out before he got to the “how to”. I was disappointed with this presentation because he didn’t appreciate what his audience really wanted. He was like the sales presenter who insists on plodding through his presentation even after the client agrees to buy.

When your audience pleads with you to speed it up, what they might really mean is:

We are past that stage – move on
You’re speaking fluff – say something more meaningful
Your words haven’t challenged me yet – when will you get to something interesting?

Speed it up – really means that you need to better engage and challenge the thinking of your audience. It does not mean to speak faster.

By the way, I tend to speak slowly and I use the “pause” more effectively than most. Other speakers have commented favorably to me about both these techniques and no one has asked me to “speed it up”.

“Speed it up” does not mean “speak faster”. It means you need to say more meaningful things. Say things that make your audience think. They are challenging you to make them think.

“Speed it up” indicates that your audience is interested in the topic and wants to get to the destination faster.


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