Wrapping Your Head around Rapport

How do we build rapport with others?

 

We have all heard of ‘having rapport’; hearing someone say “she has a great rapport with her customers”,”He has a great rapport with the crowd”. Rapport isn’t something you can hold in your hands and as a commodity, it can’t be weighed on a set of scales. So what is it? And more importantly, how do we get cultivating some for ourselves.

I would say simply, Rapport is a mutually respected bond between two or more people that is built by complementary exhanges. Be they views, emotions or information.

Rapport is built slowly in a business and professional setting, cultivating and maintaining ties, offering assistance and providing help. Going the extra mile for the other party with no real expectation of immediate payoff.

Sometimes though, you need to put your rapport building into overdrive. Occasions like networking events, public events, social gatherings etc. You need to build a fairly firm connection with another person or group and have them or mutual parties, vouch and confirm that you are geniuine and have a genuine desire to connect. Sure, you can leave them a business card, contact details, Linkedin request and/or schedule another time to meet. But you need to get the initial hook in and start building rapport. This will build that genuineness and demonstrate your credibility.

Read Credibility – What is it? 

How do we consciously build rapport then I hear you ask. Well, we have a plethora of options available to us. We just need to temper them to the situation we find ourselves in.

Firstly, we need to understand that building rapport is a risk and reward exercise. generally the safest acts and rituals will not move the needle, because you are only conforming to normal standards, i.e shaking hands when you meet. (99% of people in a business setting do that). You need to be further up the risk ladder if you are to get the result you want. If you are sharing your emotions and deep thoughts, whilst engaging in a riveting conversation or exchange, be it in agreement or not. Then you are up the risk ladder and your payoffs and rewards are potentially greater. Read my piece on debates and exchanges here.

The middle ground to this aproach is a happy medium which you can achieve after you have shaken hands, kissed cheeks, bowed respectfully to one another or even performed a curtsey. This green zone is an area where you share facts and information, these exchanges are safer as they are grounded in reality and if you are both passionate about the subject you are sharing, you will likely be able to agree on; or add more information and facts to the conversation. From here, as confidence increases and nerves setlle, you can then go up the ladder to the emotions, ideas and judegements plateau!

Some key takeaways for building rapport and demonstrating a genuine, authentic and mindful personality are:

  • Not rushing the encounter or overloading the other party
  • The conversation makes sense in the context of the interaction
  • Equality and Empathy – treat your conversation partner(s) with respect and dignity
  • Discuss Topical Issues, extracting their views or opinions to help shape your response – this shows you are an active/attentive listener (fantastic trait)

Some key red flags and definite rapport burners are:

  • Over famliarity
  • Lack of professionalism
  • Arrogant and officious demeanor or attitude
  • Judgemental or pious stance on others andn the views they hold
  • Poor communication (goes without saying)

On a final note, I would advise anyone serious in their career, passion or just self development, to understand the value and potential massive ROI you can receive from just being a good conversationalist and rapport builder. Most successful people I know, in business and leisure have stumbled on more opportunities and life changing moments because they made the right connections and sparked the right minds into conversations. Get out there and show people just how much you can bring to any conversation and moment.

 

“Rapport equals trust plus comfort.” – Neil Strauss, American Author, Journalist and Ghostwriter.

For more public speaking advice, coaching and assistance please feel free to email –Will@lib-Orator.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Get Payed What You’re Worth

How adding value adds dollars to your paycheck…

It is simple in essence. You work harder, you get paid more. Right?

Wrong. You get payed whatever the going rate for your skill and what the market demand is. Heart surgeons are in short supply and are very skilled. Warehouse operatives are in surplus and can be replaced almost daily. Put yourself on the scale of skill and demand and be brutal with yourself. What is your current market position?

So how do you go about becoming the metaphorical heart surgeon of your field? Firstly you need to understand value and its relative nature. Everything has a value, however small or seemingly irrelevant. Like the saying goes, “one man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure”. What you think might be useless might be useful to someone else. Understanding what the ‘other person’ wants is the key to adding value.

Value can be subjective, but if it is coupled with insight, experience and evidence it is undeniable. You want the final idea and piece of ‘value’ to be objective though. By doing so, you further demonstrate your ability and knowledge.

The aim of adding value is to draw people to a new idea or a way of thinking that is beneficial to them or the company’s bottom line. It could be to solve a problem the company has been experiencing, it could solve a problem that the company didn’t even know it had! These ‘pain points’ and areas in friction, might have solutions. You may be the person who recognises and resolves them!

A word to the wise, don’t share your idea or logical insights with your colleagues, someone always takes them and claims them, or drops you in hot water by making out you were bad-mouthing the hierarchy, going against the grain and/or shedding light on their woeful managerial skills – This is coming from experience… 

                                Read – How Do I Gain Credibility

The key to adding value is learning how to communicate effectively. Be clear in every point of your talk. If you don’t, you risk sounding like a complainer or just an old fashioned moron. Use the Lib-Orator approach and cause some HAVOC…

  • Highlight the problem/issue and any analysis used in the process
  • Allocate VALUE(S) by statistical evidence to the problem/issue
  • Volunteer a solution/practice or an entirely new system
  • Outline your new proposals benefits with statistical evidence (tests results)
  • Calculate estimates – Show how much VALUE your new proposal will deliver!

Be sure to field all questions at the end to ensure that no one is scratching their head! The point of causing HAVOC is to demonstrate your abilities, help the company and prove you have a pro-active approach to problem solving and show initiative. This adds value to everyone involved!

Now to use this golden ticket! but how? Well, there are several ways of going about it. You might be doing this by the water-cooler (is that still a thing?) or more likely, in the conference room or bosses office. Either way, stick to this format and you will be able to deliver your piece with total confidence like the true professional you are!

Like always, feel free to drop us a comment and Follow the Lib-Orator Blog for more.

What Makes The Perfect Pitch?

Read on to get a few pointers on how to pitch like Babe Ruth…

firstly, lets clarify what a ‘pitch’ is. A pitch is a verbal presentation of your business plan; in essence, you should be presenting to investors that you have a working idea, product, (realistic) future projections, (realistic) financials and of course you will need to have an intimate knowledge of your idea/business. Showing that you lack a depth of knowledge in what you are delivering to an audience/investor is the quickest way to ensure no one gets their cheque-book out.

Investors will want to ‘stress-test’ your business model, your pricing,  your future predictions, your actual product and of course they will play hard ball when it comes to the question of how much of their money you want. Be prepared and expect that you will be under the spotlight. Remember that this person is potentially handing over his/her money for your endeavour. I only hope you would be critical of someone/something if it was asking for your money with little information in return. Be transparent with your audience and honesty is truly the best policy.

Lastly, don’t wear jeans and t-shirt. You are not Mark Zuckerberg. At least not yet. Wear what is considered ‘professional’ in your field. If you are a Creative and pitching something wearable. HIRE A MODEL. Ever tried to pay attention to someone wearing the product? It is terrible and makes you look like a moron. Models are paid to stand around and look good. Spend the money and it will make a huge difference. So lets get down to brass tacks…

Understand that you are not the smartest person in the room. You are the expert when it comes to understanding your business and you THINK you are the expert at what your customer wants. The real lesson here is appreciate what you do know, accept that there is a lot that you don’t know and lastly, what you don’t know is what will kill you (unless you make strides to solve those knowledge gaps). To that end, if you don’t know something, hire someone or ask someone. If that isn’t your MO – surround yourself with people and friends that do know about the knowledge you lack. Just don’t try to pull the wool over your audiences eyes!

Fictional waffle is no contender against cold hard results. We all no someone who can talk a good game, but never seems to show the results of them actually going through with something. It’s pretty easy to spot and it does not lend itself to being a credible ‘go-getter’. The simple fix for this crippling ailment is EXECUTION. Go out there and just get results. Good or bad. Its all data you can use to add credibility and punch to your Pitch. What customer feedback to you have? How many sales have you made? What does your orders forecast look like for this year? Questions like that will de-rail someone who hasn’t done their homework or their hustling. If there is a way to test a part of your business and get some cold hard data, feedback, figures, financial etc etc. Whatever it is, try and capture it and record it. then you can deliver way more to your audience than just anecdotes and waffle.

Keep it short and concise. Just like this paragraph; control the urge to throw everything at the audience. Aim for an ‘elevator pitch’, two minutes or so is ample. You want to get across your big hitting points and demonstrate a water tight model. The ‘nice to know’ information and filler can be saved for the questions at the end. If your delivering a tight presentation that peaks interest. Trust me, there will be questions.

Do one thing perfectly, then repeat. As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. Which is true as it took centuries to become the Hegemony of that period and boast such an Empire. My other favourite ‘Rome’ related phrase is “It was like the last days of Rome in there”. My point – Your business won’t be huge overnight, it takes years to build momentum, size and market share. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Perfect one service and then once you have a core strength, expand. Rome didn’t wake up with an Empire, it built it. But Rome did see its empire fall down around its ears in the blink of an eye.

Not every investor is looking for a Unicorn. Understand ‘angel investors’ and high risk individuals might be throwing money at Silicon Valley start-ups and digital wearable developers, but 99% of investors want to see tangible products and results. Don’t try and excite and mesmerise investors with projections and valuations that are untrue or unattainable. Show them best case, worst case and the most likely course you see the business achieving. Back that with data and numbers (because you have been executing and hustling). Give them a warm sense of reassurance and a taste of potential if they invest in you and the business.

Learn frugality. This one is a difficult topic to dissect. People see frugal individuals as boring and miserable. Scrooges and misers. Here is my take on the matter: If you are asking someone for their money, do no then host lavish company outings and launch parties, Up your salary to an excessive amount. Don’t upgrade your car instantaneously and renovate/move home. An investor wants to see that you are maximising every penny and pound they give to you. Demonstrate that the company is on line and is fighting for its success.

So there you have it. Demonstrating all of these in your short and concise presentation/pitch should have you walking away with a handshake and hopefully an opportunity to take discussions to the next level. Don’t let the images of Shark Tank and Dragons Den deter you from getting the backing that your idea or business deserves.

“I have found that an effective elevator pitch is nine things: Concise, Clear, Compelling, Credible, Conceptual, Concrete, Consistent, Customised and Conversational.” – Chris O’Leary – American Author

 

 

 

 

 

A Fear of Public Speaking? 

Is it really a ‘Fear’?

A lot of people can relate, over 50% of the UK and US to be more precise. Speaking in front of people can be a daunting and uneasy affair.

Now you know that you are not alone. Even I still get cagey leading up to a talk. So it is easy to see why people sometimes lose control of their natural aversion. A natural aversion can become a fear without warning. That’s all that it is, an aversion. We just take it to an unhealthy level. So how do we grasp, identify, break and then reprogramme our minds?
Here is what we will cover in this post.

  • Understanding Fear

  • Framing Our Aversion

  • Breaking Down Our Aversion

  • Building A New System

Understanding Fear

A lot of people ‘fear public speaking’ apparently. A lot of mentors and coaches have products and systems that sell you the ‘silver bullet’ with offers like -“Overcome your fear of public speaking with our one week course”. Overcoming a fear is not a simple fix that takes a week or can be solved by a one day workshop. Genuine fears are things that are deep rooted and often stem from traumatic events in the past.

These boulders in a persons mind can’t be ‘blasted out’. They need to be chipped away with a pick-axe, with consistency and patience over time. We don’t sell silver bullets or quick fixes here. If you want to up your game, you have to work at it.

While 1% of us may have a genuine old fashioned Phobia of public speaking. 99% of us just have a plain and simple healthy aversion to it. As the Oxford Dictionary states, FEAR is –  An unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain or harm.

Fear is a response, and automatic sensor suite if you will. A suite designed to protect you from the aforementioned threats stated above. Ironically, as good as our evolved brains and bodies are at getting us out of the path of danger and jeopardy. They also get us off the path of success and recognition.

How many times have you kicked yourself for not answering a question? Held yourself back from saying what everyone was thinking only to see someone else get the praise? In trying to keep us safe and secure in our safe zone, our nervous system actually holds us back from the success and credit we deserve.

We internalise emotions. Our stress levels and heart-rate increase. Whether in a conference room, under pressure to deliver. Or on a backstreet being held at knife point for your personal possessions. To your brain, you have found yourself in a situation you do not want to be in and so a “fight or flight” instinct triggers. It begins to take control of your body, kind of like a master override switch. Once switched, the system then has one purpose. SURVIVE.

In a conference room, you are not at knife point and no one is threatening you. But your brain does not distinguish between scenarios. It has emotions to feed it’s sensors. Your brain has it’s wires crossed and needs to be reigned in!

We have to turn the SURVIVE switch off. Then in it’s place, we build a new switch. One that YOU control and turn on when YOU need it. One that makes you THRIVE.

Framing Our Aversion

Now we know what fear actually is, we can go about framing our own aversion of public speaking. Fear is not a factor. Aversions are what keep you out of discomforts. An aversion is a dislike or a disinclination to do something. For example, a lot of people don’t like Sushi. I.e. They have an aversion to it.

Public speaking is the same, we are averse to it. But if we try both, continue to sample and test small bits. We learn to appreciate and understand the thing in question. For example, I like Sushi and hate wasabi. I like to speak on scientific topics and I am terrible at Improv/Comedy. We learn about each new thing and its nuances, at the same time learning about ourselves.

Once you can identify ‘aversions’ in your life. You will quickly be able to identify between a simple dislike and avoidance. Maybe you don’t like pork but still eat beef. Cats but not dogs. You get my drift…

Logically you can now frame public speaking and your aversion to it. Go deeper still and get into the weeds of it. I wasn’t averse to standing in front of people but I was painfully worried about getting facts wrong, or stammering/stuttering (I had a stutter as a kid). Understand what it is about being in the spotlight that makes your heart skip a beat.

Breaking Down Our Aversion

Breaking down the aversion is simple in essence. we get exposure to it. We take small steps in confidence building. Play to your strengths, use them to accelerate progress. If you are a good listener or love to read. Use those skills to research and absorb new information and techniques, (like you are doing now…).

A Break-through occurs when you consistently make small progress towards goal(s). Turn up and be consistent. This is how empires were built, how rail-roads conquered mountains and why professional success in any field occurs. Progress is progress, no matter how slow or small.

Aim to simply be slightly better than you were yesterday and ensure that you monitor your progress. People generally give up doing or trying something because they fail to notice small progress and see their goal as one huge target in the distance.

Building A New System

Stumbling into greatness does not work. ‘Greatness’ is also a relative term. I.e. what level I consider to be great might be different to what you see. If you are a terrified public speaking, don’t see Steve Jobs or Martin Luther King as the benchmark. It is about building a system in which YOU are the best speaker that you can be. Its not about imitation or replication, anyone can do an unconvincing portrayal of someone else and their style.

Instead, we want to build our own individual and unique style. A system whereby your personality, style and individuality are on show. Be great in your own way. Not by someone else’s barometer of greatness.

A new system does not happen overnight. After all, it takes times and commitment to break down an aversion and change your behaviour to something you are not comfortable doing. So make it about smaller more manageable goals and then work on them. Tiny and consistent progress on the micro level makes huge break-throughs on the macro level.

Focus on grasping and perfecting the fundamentals. Do exercises that build up confidence and muscle memory. The same principles generally apply in breaking down an aversion and then building in its place. You want to make slow and steady progress towards an end state. In this style, you can monitor the smaller details, the nuts and bolts of your grand vision. The Eiffel Tower is amazing. But if someone didn’t work on the nuts and bolts, it would have never of been built.

 

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. – Frederick Douglass – social-reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman

Avoid Becoming A Yes-Man

How Do You Avoid Becoming The Captain’s Parrot?

Everyone is familiar with the image of a Ship’s Captain with a Parrot on his shoulder. The Parrot echoes the Captain, squawking nonsense from the top deck of the ship. That is what I see when working with someone who is unable to think for themselves and just agrees with the companies ideas, policies, etc… They do not rock the boat. Which is fine in most situations, however it shows a lack of drive, imagination, knowledge and initiative.

We have all worked with or know of someone who always seems to take others opinions. Taking their information from the mainstream media without questioning its validity or bias.

Those who generally do not form their own opinions or question the nature of life’s different offerings tend to be easily misinformed, refuted and led. These are the people that you are working alongside and may even find them as your superiors from time to time. A scary thought right?

Something ‘Yes-Man’ don’t have, Read – Credibility – What is it? 

So how do you avoid becoming the Captain’s Parrot? At work for instance, just echoing company rhetoric and always taking the bosses word for it are two prime examples of parroting. A business practice might be unethical, maybe even bordering illegal, the captains parrot will not speak out against his master.

But someone who is informed and knowledgeable will speak out because they don’t just take what they are told as Gospel truth. The quickest and most sure-fire way of avoiding the title of ‘Yes-Man’ is to strive to be informed. From multiple sources. Never rely on a single source when it comes to forming opinions and ideas. Everyone can be guilty of this from time to time. ‘Gossip’ is by far the most dangerous medium for information. Inaccurate, twisted, subjective and nearly always intended to undermine who it pertains to.

I take great pride when someone informs me of gossip pertaining to myself. See it as a barometer of success. The more you achieve, the more people will want to bring you down or dash your efforts.

If your success has afforded you the luxury of having people work for you. Then congratulations. But before you go ahead and pat yourself on the back, look at your talent and take stock of who you have employed. Employing a ‘Yes-Man’ is just as dangerous as being one.

Don’t be the stick in the mud or the party pooper, but always seek to question things. That is how you demonstrate your value and communicate to others you are happy to follow the majority when required but if the moment requires it, you can stand up and inform your peers clearly and concisely on an alternative idea.

“I don’t want any yes-men around me. I want everybody to tell me the truth even if it costs them their job”. – Samuel Goldwyn – American Film Producer

 

A Winning Formula?

Finding your own personal formula to good practice.

As the quizzical title suggests, can there be a single formula to good practice. You know something unifying, regardless of the time and day.

Energy + Focus x Structure / Time = Good Practice?

I like to think there is such a thing. It is as close to perfect as we can get in this imperfect World! The going rate is 10,000 hours. That is the average time it takes to become ‘top of the field’ so to speak. From Quarterbacks, Golfers, Archers, Musicians, Potters and Painters; If someone is to be considered a professional in their field they need to put the practice in and learn their craft. “So I have to talk to myself for 10,000 hours to be a professional speaker?” – you can do that, if you want. But you might be put in an asylum and classed insane.

You speak everyday and unless you have recently taken a vow of silence for religious reasons, I am betting you can hold a conversation. So you are already a professional speaker. You honed that skill as an infant and child. What you haven’t honed anywhere near as much is the confidence and ability to stand in front of various groups of people and illustrate your ideas, translate brain waves and impact people on an emotional level. That is what we want to practice. How? by taking something we have already and replicating it.

Read  – Perfect Speakers Don’t Exist

The idea is straight forward, think of what you are good at and that you enjoy. For me it is between Skiing and Drums. However, one of these is much more applicable (the drums). Now think of the mindset you are in when you are practicing or just dabbling in the chosen activity. Are you consumed by it, forgetting whats going on around you? Perhaps deaf to the people around you as your attention and focus remain channelled? If so, PERFECT! If not, revise your choice and/or work on attaining a level of deep practice through Public Speaking itself.

I practice the drums for only an hour a day. Mostly to keep my neighbours from lynching me. 6pm-7pm, Monday to Friday. It doesn’t shift unless I am away or there is a zombie apocalypse. That is my first key and it is the big one; Consistency. It helps my mind to focus and gives me structure so I can instantly go into a deep practice almost every time. I can be exhausted from work some days but I still strangely have the energy and enthusiasm to practice for 60 minutes. I you want it enough, your mind will move mountains in order to achieve it.

So for my speaking practice I need to re-create that same mindset and attitude about being consistent. Through doing so, it will yield me the energy and focus to stick at it.

I am terrible with keeping to things, so my life is pleasantly structured (OCD?). Even my practice is on a fixed program. I do five minutes of stretches and warm up myself (not a single touch on the instrument). Then 15 minutes of drills and technique on a practice pad. Now I move to the actual kit and begin with more drills, rudiments and stick work for 10 minutes. which leaves me with the final 30 minutes, in this time slot I can be more flexible and spend time trying new ideas, listening to the kit and making changes and then mostly I put my headphones on and just play along to my music. Notice that I don’t take the fun out of my practice. I reward myself with it after.

This is an example of structured practice and it leaves nothing to chance. I am always guaranteeing myself some level of progress. Aimlessly hitting things for an hour a day will not yield results as fast as a structured plan and consistent execution of it. I am not suggesting you practice speaking for an hour a day. But when you do decide to practice, it should be pre-planned and on a schedule that you know you can keep yourself to.

As you plan your new speaking practice around your pre-existing activity of choice, remember that you are aiming for your version of ‘deep practice’, I for one define my practices as ‘good’ by how focused I was and whether or not I have refined a certain thing or maybe had a rare ‘eureka’ moment. That for me is as near to perfect as I will ever get. And remember – Consistency and Structure are what will force multiply your progress.

A round of applause is the perfect proof you have been practicing properly…

Credibility – What is it? 

What is it and how do I get some?

It’s on amazon and you can get it delivered tomorrow if you are a prime customer.

If you believe that, then your quest for credibility will be a painful one. Credibility is a measurable thing. It has no physical weight or mass; but it is visible, it is felt and it is always hard to acquire but easy to lose. Amazon also doesn’t stock it…

Think of building credibility as a game of Snakes and Ladders, the only difference is that you don’t need dice to decide your fate. You can guide yourself around the pitfalls and traps, avoiding any losses.

So what is credibility? Credibility is a mixture of integrity, experience, judgement and knowledge. We have mentioned how integrity is key to speaking on numerous occasions, but how do we build the other traits up, in line with our already strong sense of integrity? Experience is simple… GO DO IT. Judgement is harder to acquire than experience, you need to be able to analyse your field, see trends, target opportunities and impart your predictions. You wont always make the right calls and that is fine, that’s just life. When making judgements, you can rely on your gut or the data. Experience will always aid judgement if you are someone who learns from the past. If you aren’t someone who learns lessons from past endeavours, you are doomed to fail. You will however, be extremely credible in what it takes to be a consistent failure!

The big key here is knowledge. Knowledge is your subject, yourself, even your experiences. It is the all-encompassing entity that permeates through the others to build credibility. Being knowledgeable in a field or subject takes time and effort, but it does afford you some credibility. After all, you know what you’re talking about, so people can tell you are genuine and not a crook. Knowledge without kindness is something tragic though. Knowledge is power and power without kindness is a dangerous tool. Sharing your knowledge and kindly delivering your insight to your field or subject’s enthusiasts is the ultimate goal of public speaking. A genuinely credible person is someone who is kind and connected to their field and their fellows.

The most credible people I know are well-respected, deeply knowledgeable, constantly learning and always giving back to their communities. They are consistent and have a genuine passion for what they do. One of those people is my father, he has demonstrated all those skill and traits throughout his life and now he is one of the industry leaders and specialists in his trade.

So there it is. A simple and not too hair splitting approach to build some credibility and raise your profile in your area of expertise.

 

To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; and to be credible we must be truthful. – Edward R. Murrow