I ran a workshop last week with a group of business owners focused on developing a niche and communicating effectively with well researched and understood target audiences.
I really enjoy running these types of courses and they are always well received. Part of my style of delivery is to ‘follow the energy’ in the room and go ‘off piste’ if that is where the conversation takes us. I am also a storyteller so share examples (both good and bad) of my experience of the subject matter. This includes letting the audience know that I don’t have all the answers and that I sometimes get it wrong and need to follow my own advice! This is just my style – as I said, I am a storyteller.
I had some excellent feedback following the event including a couple of blog posts written by attendees (you can read them here and here). If you read these blogs you can see that by presenting myself as ‘human’ and ‘on their side’ it builds great empathy. As one of the writers notes, often trainers stand in front of an audience telling them what to do and implying they have all the answers and always get it right themselves. This doesn’t build empathy and smacks of their ego getting in the way.
If you want to win your audience over (whether that audience is one person or 100) you need to first build rapport and empathy. You do this by listening, by being honest and genuine, by being yourself and remembering you have nothing to prove. Maybe that is the difference between me (who has been doing this a long while) and others who stand in front of an audience and feel they have something to prove! Why?
Yes of course we need to appear confident and knowledgeable but if we read the audience carefully, be sure to listen and share our own experiences (both positive and negative) then we will build rapport and trust and remove barriers to ensure great conversations and learning takes place.