Chapter 6: Introductions and Conclusions

38 Establishing Rapport

The next element of your introduction will be to establish rapport with your audience. Rapport is basically a relationship or connection you make with your audience. In everyday life, we say that two people have a rapport when they get along really well and are good friends. In your intro- duction, you will want to explain to your audience why you are giving them this information and why it is important to them (answering the WIIFM question). You will be making a connection through this shared information and explaining to them how it will benefit them. One of the best examples of rapport we have seen came from an informative speech on the poet Lord Byron:

You may be asking yourselves why you need to know about Lord Byron. If you take Humanities 1202 as I did last semester, you will be discussing his life and works, so after this speech you will have a good basis for the class material.

What is important here is that this speaker used the audience analysis techniques discussed in Chapter 2 to determine the demographic make-up of the audience and determine what would motivate them to listen. Knowing that they are all college students, the speaker enticed them to listen with the suggestion that this information would benefit them in a future class they might take.

Another important thing to note here is that there is not necessarily a right or wrong way to establish rapport with your audience. You as the speaker must determine what you think will work best and help make a connection. Take for example an informative speech on “how to throw a baseball.” How would you establish rapport with your audience on that topic? Maybe you choose to focus on the age of your audience, and noting that they are all relatively young and that some of them are already parents, you might say, “A lot of people in this room have or may have children someday, and if you decide you want to throw a ball with them or help them with sports, here are three steps you can use to teach them how to throw a baseball.” Will everyone in the class have kids someday? Probably not, but it is reasonable to guess that most about your audience will relate to this approach based on a demographic analysis. 

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Fundamentals of Public Speaking by Lumen Learning is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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