In any type of communication, you want to quickly create a situation where your audience trusts you and feels comfortable with you.
This is known as rapport and, once you have it with someone, it is much easier to persuade them to your point of view.
In a live situation, as we discuss in a separate post, you build personal rapport with others through what you see and hear in the moment – their words, their body language and their gestures for example.
Arguably, in a word dominated by email, video and audio the ability to build rapport through written and broadcast communication is even more powerful.
The principles are very similar. You simply want to make sure you are communicating in a way that builds trust and confidence.
Obviously, in some situations – like a letter or email, you might know who you are writing to and can match your message specifically to what you know about them. But, even when you don’t know your audience personally, you can still build rapport in your writing (and in video and audio). Here are some ways you can do that:
- Show that you understand their needs: Demonstrate an empathy with their situation or problem. For example, in a sales letter, show how you have experienced a similar situation yourself or helped others with it.
- Let your personality show: People find it easier to relate to someone they see as another human being, rather than as a representative of a corporate entity. So be ready to share a little about yourself. That doesn’t mean you need to give away your whole life story, just to communicate as one person to another person.
- Build on common experiences: People will relate to you more easily if they feel you are just like them in some way. So if you know you have something in common with the people you are writing to, make sure that comes across.
- Match how they deal with information: Some audiences want a lot of details, others just want key facts. It’s not always possible to cater for both at the same time, so you need to be able to deliver your message in a few words as a 40 second summary or in more detail as a written document or 40 minute presentation.
- Use appropriate words and language: Make sure you talk to people using words and terms that they are used to and feel comfortable with. For a professional audience, use the technical terms but for a general audience, avoid jargon and use popular terms rather than formal ones if appropriate. Too much business communication is stuffy and formal so you’ll get better results by communicating as a friend.
In a world where communication is becoming fast and impersonal, the ability to create trust and confidence by building rapport can get you noticed and make you money.