Presentation Skills Articles


Essential Presentation Skills

Developing rapport with your
audience during a presentation

written by Jan D'Arcy

Let‘s face it. Audiences are demanding. Expectations are high. Circumstances are not always ideal. Yet public speakers are expected to be knowledgeable, competent and engaging. If you can immediately connect with your audience, it will easier for you to get your ideas across, accepted, and implemented.

Let’s discuss how your Attitude and Voice can help bring about rapport with your audience.


Attitude. Audiences will mirror your attitude-your attitude is contagious. If you are comfortable and at ease, the audience will reflect this and rapport will be forthcoming. If you are tense or fearful and want to get the presentation over with, the audience will sense this too, and you will be distancing yourself rather than achieving rapport. It is important to forget about yourself and not be absorbed in your material or slide show. Concentrate on your audience and be responsive to any kind of feedback from them. When you solicit questions, encourage your audience, instead of hoping there won't be any challenges. The audience immediately senses whether you like yourself, are committed to your message, and care about them and their goals.


Involve the audience in the first 90 seconds. Your voice can be welcoming and enthusiastic instead of arrogant or aloof. Do you sound disappointed because of the size of the audience, irritated because the computer slide show isn't working, or is your voice upbeat and positive regardless of the circumstances? If circumstances are less than ideal, the audience will rally with you if you handle the situation with grace.

Use a mental yellow highlighter as you talk to people to emphasize what they should remember. Trying to bring up the same image in the audience's mind as in yours will provide you with a challenge and keep you focused on using your voice and words to draw the audience in. Use drama and variety in your voice to capture and keep attention focused on your message.

Stay with your audience to the end of your thought. Then put a period on the end of your sentence. In other words, do not race ahead, thinking of what comes next. If you do, you will be disconnecting from the audience. Imagine you are carefully leading your audience by the hand through a maze of ideas and you both want to reach the conclusion together. This attitude will help you strengthen your connection.

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”You helped our Marketing and Communications Managers condense a lot of detailed material into a short amount of time. The best part was that they took your advice to ”make it interactive” and were able to establish rapport quickly and maintain a dialogue with the sales reps throughout their presentations. I think the run-throughs on videotape and your critiques allowed them to shift their emphasis to the audience, delivering information that was needed and useful.”

Bob Betz, VP
Stimson Lane
Woodinville, WA

Tips for Gaining Rapport

  • Acknowledge you are familiar with your audience and where they are coming from.
  • Find common ground.
  • Give an overview so the audience recognizes the value of your message to them.
  • Keep your intro brief and get into the heart of your material.
  • Make them feel they aren't wasting their time.

Try some of the techniques I have suggested. Let me know by email if they help you achieve rapport in your next presentation or you have further questions.

Check out my monthly Blog as we will continue to discuss techniques to help you become a Compelling Speaker.


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Jan D'Arcy & Associates
330 2nd Ave South #12 Kirkland, WA 98033     |    (206)-683-2982