Category Archives: Mark Vickers

Increase Sales with Clear Intent

By Mark A. Vickers

Mark VickersSales success relies on your ability to communicate effectively with your prospects. The problem is we often get in our own way by not being intentional about the intent of a meeting. Kelly knew that the sales reps on her team were dedicated to their customers but they seemed to be running in circles. There was a tremendous amount of “Sales Person Activity” but not enough “Sales Activity.”

Kelly knew that based on the activity, her team should be closing more business. When she sat in on a week’s worth of calls and meetings, she determined that her team was lacking a clear focus on the intent of their meetings.

Know Your Intent: Taking the time to properly prepare is the key to successful sales communications. As you begin intentionally preparing for a client interaction, ask a simple question: What is the intent or outcome I want from this meeting?

As you consider the objective of the next interaction with your prospect, be tactical. Your initial thought may be that you want them to:

  • Buy if they are a prospect or
  • Buy more or upgrade if they are already a customer

However, your intent must be a next step not the final step or goal. Your intent falls into one of two categories: “Believe” or “Do.” Depending on the situation and where you are in the client relationship, you may need them to:

  • Believe and trust you and your value
  • Believe they have a problem you can help with
  • Believe they can achieve something
  • Believe their life will be better if something changes

As you are building rapport early in the relationship with your prospect, your intent is likely to be focused on “Believe.” Your ability to move from “Believe” intents to action-oriented “Do” intents will depend on creating strong connections with your prospects.

Once you have a relationship with the prospect, your intent will be more “Do” or action-oriented shifting to:

  • Get a next meeting to gather more information
  • Get an introduction to a decision maker
  • Gain agreement on details to be used in a proposal
  • Gain commitment on a decision date
  • Close the sale

Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean you don’t ask for the sale in a meeting if the opportunity presents itself (just don’t rush it). In the majority of cases your sales process requires multiple steps. At each step along the way, the more intentional you are the faster you will move through the process.

Primary and Secondary Intents: In some situations, you may achieve two intents in one successful interaction. For example, one of Kelly’s reps had been working for weeks to get a meeting with the CEO of his prospect company. The rep had multiple meetings with a key advisor to the CEO, and in each meeting would try to “sell” their service. His call to action was to ask for a meeting with the CEO. In each meeting, the advisor found ways to delay and avoid taking any action.

When Kelly asked what the Primary Intent of the meeting was, the rep, surprised by her question, told her “To get to the CEO so we can close the deal.” Kelly worked with her rep to prepare for the next meeting with a new intent: To help the advisor believe that they could help them and their company to achieve more success.

The rep met again with the advisor, and this time was not concerned with the Secondary Intent of meeting with the CEO. By concentrating on the belief of the advisor, the focus of the conversation shifted. To the rep’s surprise, the moment the advisor believed in his ability to understand their needs and deliver a viable solution, he scheduled a meeting with the CEO.

Not only had the Primary Intent been achieved, it was a requirement in order to achieve the Secondary Intent. Be careful not to be deceived by Secondary Intents. For Kelly’s rep, focusing on getting a meeting with the decision maker was actually preventing the achievement of their Primary Intent of getting the advisor on board.

When determining your Primary and Secondary Intent, it is important to consider who you are meeting with and their role in the decision hierarchy.

What is the Decision Hierarchy? In many client situations you work with a number of people throughout the process. Understanding their role will make it easier for you to determine your intent and approach to each discussion or presentation.

Is the person you are meeting with an Advisor, Minor Influencer, Significant Influencer, or a Decision Maker?

  • The Advisor: It is common to be working with a Technical Advisor early in the sales process, but also for them to be part of the overall decision-making team. In general terms, The Advisor is tactically oriented, often skeptical and will have many questions. Progress with advisors will be made by learning what drives them and providing them the technical information they need to move the project along.
  • The Minor Influencer: The Minor Influencer is likely to have some accountability for the success of initiatives and may be the supervisor of The Advisor. The Minor Influencer may share the assessment of The Advisor with senior management, and may be looked to for recommendations on the viability of different options. It is important that The Minor Influencer is comfortable with the details but also with the high-level benefits. In order to achieve support, the emotional benefits to The Minor Influencer must be clear.
  • The Significant Influencer: A Significant Influencer may be a senior manager, budget holder, or key stakeholder that you need to create a connection with. Typically, The Significant Influencer is concerned with the big picture and the overall impact of the recommendations. In addition, their stake in the success of the project and the company can be used to connect the emotional benefits.
  • The Decision Maker: Whether it is the owner of the business or a senior executive, they are responsible and accountable for overall success. Depending on the size of the organization, you may only deal with The Decision Maker, or you may deal with any combination of the four roles of the Decision Hierarchy.

Win More Sales With Clear Intent: When you are clear on who you are meeting with—and your intent is clear—you will deliver a more effective message and win more sales. Start today by identifying the Primary Intent of each conversation or meeting, and the role of the person you are speaking with.

It’s time for you to enjoy stronger sales through intentional presenting.

Mark A. Vickers is a Certified Professional Coach, and Certified World Class Speaking Coach. Mark helps you and your sales team improve performance through improved presentation and speaking skills. Mark’s creative and engaging programs and coaching are designed to help your team become more effective quickly.

5 Steps to Maximizing Meeting and Event ROI

By Mark A. Vickers

Mark VickersBusinesses invest heavily in meetings and events; yet often have no concrete plan to help increase their return on investment. Research compiled by PriceWaterHouseCoopers for 2012 looked at meetings or events that:

  • were at least 4 hours long
  • had 10 or more attendees
  • were held in rented venues
  • and determined that there were:
  • 8 million meetings
  • 225 million attendees
  • $280 billion in costs

Add to this the meetings and events held at corporate facilities plus salaries for all attendees, and the total cost of meetings and events easily exceeds a half trillion dollars annually. Are you maximizing the ROI for your meetings and events?

A Google search shows thousands of articles on the importance of calculating meeting and event ROI, however, there is little guidance on how to improve event effectiveness. In order for your next meeting or event to produce a positive ROI your attendees need to leave the event motivated to do something different long-term.

Events like All-Employee Meetings or multi-day conferences require special planning. ROI will be created when you are able to build value for the attendees through a well-defined intent and objectives delivered through clear and compelling presentations.

The Event Presentation Life Cycle

The Event Presentation Life Cycle is a formal process designed to help improve speaker skill and presentation quality therefore improving event effectiveness and ROI.Maximize Meeting ROI, by Mark A. Vickers

1. Theme/Topic Selection

The first step in preparing a high value event is to determine the main objective, theme, and desired results of the event. Once the theme of the event has been identified, topic selection and sequencing can begin.

Topics should be sequenced to build on previous topics, creating a storyline that runs through the event. By utilizing a variety of presentation styles and audience interactions, audience engagement will be further supported.

Never underestimate the importance of this step, as poor topic selection and sequencing will result in a disjointed program, a loss of audience engagement and reduced ROI.

2. Speaker Assignment

Selecting who will be addressing your participants is often the most important set of decisions impacting the ROI of your event. Each speaker has various characteristics that will impact the energy, flow and effectiveness including:

  • Area of expertise
  • Area of passion
  • Energy level
  • Presentation skill level
  • Creativity and theatrical ability
  • Ability to motivate vs. train

Caution: Don’t make the mistake of assigning topics solely based on job title or role within the organization versus who is going to be most effective.

As part of your speaker selection process, you may consider hiring external speakers to add content expertise to your event. While this expertise is valuable, it can create additional risk. Through awareness and mitigation of three primary risks associated with hiring external speakers you should protect your ROI.

Keynote Speaker Risk #1 – Inconsistent Messaging

In step 1 above, you defined intent and desired result. A quality external speaker should always begin their discussions with you by learning your intent and objectives. Depending on the situation the external speaker will also offer to mold their message to your intent.

In the early stages of working with a potential keynote speaker make sure:

  • They understand your intent and audience
  • You receive a detailed outline of their content

Keynote Speaker Risk #2 – Lack of Control

You might assume that since you are paying for a speaker that you have control over the delivery of the message. However, when you put them on stage, they are in control.

To avoid issues during your event, make sure you discuss particulars related to:

  • Information or stories that are not desirable or appropriate
  • Reference to external organizations or resources
  • Sale or promotion of products or services

High quality professional speakers should pose minimal risks to your event but your job is to make sure nothing unexpected is said from the stage.

Keynote Speaker Risk #3 – Upstaging Your Staff

Corporate executives are typically involved in presenting the majority of the information that is critical for your audience to hear. These executives are qualified in their field, but they do not possess the experience and skills of your external speaker.

Your external speaker will deliver their specialized content as a polished, powerful and dynamic presentation. The quality of the presentation inadvertently upstages your executives, highlighting the skill level difference and diminishing the value of the message delivered by your own team.

You can mitigate the “Upstaging Risk” by creatively scheduling your external speakers to minimize comparisons and by following the rest of the Event Presentation Life Cycle Process to improve the quality of all other presentations.

3. Speaker Coaching

Regardless of the skill level of the speakers you are putting in front of your audience, formalized speech and presentation coaching will help ensure clear, consistent messaging. By supporting your speakers with a professional speaking coach who is intimately aware of your intent and objectives, you will create an environment that helps prepare each speaker for maximum effectiveness and impact.

Your event speaking coach will work with each speaker focusing on:

  • Intent of the talk
  • The key point of the talk
  • Stories to be used
  • Wording and transitions
  • Creating an engaging opening
  • Crafting a powerful close and transition to the next speaker
  • Determining staging and presentation elements

By combining structured coaching with a defined and monitored practice and rehearsal plan, you equip your speakers for maximum impact.

4. Objective Assessment

When it comes to presentation effectiveness, a common mistake made by executives is to rely on anecdotal feedback from staff and coworkers instead of objective feedback. The use of a structured and objective assessment tool will provide a baseline for ongoing speaker development and a baseline for continual improvement.

A formalized, objective assessment should be based around three main categories including:

  • Content
  • Vocal Delivery
  • Presentation style and engagement

The objective results, combined with subjective feedback like audience engagement and survey results provide a framework for an action plan for future improvement.

5. Coaching Review

The final step in the Event Presentation Life Cycle is the Coaching Review. Your corporate speakers should receive feedback from an expert trained in reviewing presentations incorporating the objective assessment, subjective feedback, and a review of audio or video of the event when available.

The review should focus on the following items:

  • Content delivery
  • Message effectiveness
  • Presentation style

The coaching review and the action plan are then used as the basis for coaching the presentations for the next event.

Through this defined process, not only will you improve your current event, but you will lay the foundation and establish the process for continual Event ROI improvement.

Mark A. Vickers is a Certified Professional Coach, and Certified World Class Speaking Coach. Mark is a communications consultant focused on helping you and your organization improve performance through improved communication and speaking skills. He is known as a creative author and speaker, and for creating the Communications Challenge, an objective way to measure communication effectiveness.

3 Presentation Mistakes That Kill Your Message and Bore Your Audience

Mark VickersBy Mark Vickers

“Yea, me too, I caught a bit of a nap during the All Employee meeting… another hour wasted.”

Sandra, the CEO of a successful company was shocked when she heard this over a cube wall just minutes after finishing a series of all employee meetings. Her talks had generated applause and positive comments from those she visited with afterwards.

Three weeks earlier, Sandra had met with her Vice-Presidents of Corporate Strategy and Human Resources to discuss the mid-year All Employee Meeting.

HR had big news about the benefits plan and Strategy was ready to announce a new market and opportunities for the staff.

The team followed their standard process for preparing for a meeting:

  • They discussed the details to be shared
  • Both departments prepared the necessary slides
  • The slides were reviewed and updated
  • Corporate Communications added the “corporate verbiage” and created a script

A few days before the meetings, Sandra received the script and did a quick review. A veteran of presenting at meetings, she was relaxed and ready to go.

Sandra and her team followed a process similar to many organizations, making the same mistakes that new and experienced presenters fall victim to.

Mistake #1 – Failure to Engage: Regardless of how much experience you have making presentations, engaging your audience is an intentional process. People have a short attention span and it is your job to re-engage each member of your audience often throughout your talk.

Some of the best ways to engage and re-engage your audience are to:

  • Use compelling, well crafted stories
  • Share just enough information to make your point, leaving the extra details for a report they can read later
  • Don’t be a corporate “talking head” delivering a “corporate presentation”. To connect with others be a likeable, knowledgeable person talking to each member of your audience.
  • Today, more than ever before, your audience wants to be entertained. Being a Verbal Flatliner with little variety in tone, volume, and speed will cause you to lose your audience quickly.

While these tips sound simple, they are not easy to implement.

The Solution – Preparation: To ensure success, make sure you use a robust presentation process and structure to address:

  • Key intent
  • Maximum points for time allotted
  • Illustrative stories
  • Audience/content calibration
  • Power Opening
  • Call to Action

Regardless of how many presentations you have made, a lack of a time spent preparing using a formal process will lead to diminished results because:

  • Important points will not be made as clearly as required
  • You may talk beyond your audience
  • Speaking patterns and habits that distract your audience from the message will be more evident
  • Content Overflow (too much content for time allowed) will overwhelm your audience and bury the core message
  • Verbal Overflow (excess verbiage immediately after key points) will cause the most important information to become lost in the “babble”

Mistake #2 – Being a support to your slide presentation: You have heard of Death by PowerPoint, yet you don’t believe it happens to your audience. It is easy to slip into one of three traps that cause you to lose power and momentum:

  • Slides should provide visual support. Unfortunately many people let the slides take over the show. Your slides should not be a cue for what comes next in your presentation, making you appear like trained executive who speaks every time the slide changes.
  • You should be the “authority” not the slide show. If you let your slides share the most important information, it might be better to email everyone your slides because they don’t need to hear you.
  • People respond better to other people – but slides are easier to deliver. No matter how effective your slides are, they will never compel an audience to take action as well as you can when you are clear and passionate in your delivery.

The Solution – More Practice: Formally practicing your presentation is the only way to make sure that your carefully developed content is presented effectively. To get the most from your practice time use the following process:

  • Practice delivering your presentation (not silently reading it) while standing
  • Video (or at least audio) record it
  • Review the recording
  • Refine your presentation
  • Repeat

Mistake #3 – Failure to Improve: Your presentations will ultimately define your success and when done properly will be remembered and acted on by your audience. While the ability it present information is critical to many professionals, most fail to improve over time, typically as a result of one factor.

When you need help with your taxes, you call your accountant, your legal matters, an attorney, and to keep you healthy, your doctor. You trust experts in other areas of your life, yet when it comes to determining the effectiveness of a presentation, most people rely on comments from unreliable sources and then use that unreliable feedback for future presentations.

Do you rely on feedback from:

  • Friends, family, and staff? These people are close to you, they like you, and have a relationship or dependency on you; they are not necessarily objective and honest with you.
  • The people who come up after your presentation and tell you how great it was? These people might just want to get a few seconds with you for their own reasons or you may have connected well with them. What about all the people who didn’t come up? What did they think?

The Solution – Get Strategic Feedback: To determine the true effectiveness of your presentation, try the following tips:

  • When people say “Great job,” instead of taking the accolades and saying thank you, ask them questions like:
    – Tell me something specific you learned?
    – What are you going to do different as a result of what you heard?
    – How do you feel about this subject?
  • By asking specific questions after you speak, you will discover what they really heard. IMPORTANT: Ask the people that come up to you AND the ones that don’t.
  • Listen to a recording of what you did. It is important that you listen as a disinterested, disengaged audience member who believes they have better things to do than listen to you. Is there anything in your presentation that might get their attention? Were you dynamic and personable?
  • Have a professional, trained in speaking, connecting to an audience, and critical strategic feedback provide an assessment at least once a quarter.

Successful presentations do not happen by accident, they are carefully planned, crafted and rehearsed. You have a responsibility to provide value to the people who give their time to listen to you. You will be rewarded when they leave highly motivated and taking the action you recommended.

Mark A. Vickers is a Certified Professional Coach, and Certified World Class Speaking Coach. Mark is a communications consultant focused on helping you and your organization improve performance through improved communication and speaking skills. He is known as a creative author and speaker, and for creating the Communications Challenge, an objective way to measure communication effectiveness.

Communication Smog: How Much is it Costing Your Company?

Mark VickersBy Mark Vickers

What would you do if a pollutant in your office was killing $5,000 of profit this year?

What would you do if every single employee spewed forth that much pollution each year?

This pollutant called “Ineffective Communication” affects every employee and causes smog in your organization that prevents clear and concise communication while killing profits.

While most executives believe that communication is important, VERY few have ever tried to quantify their losses.

Communication Smog causes an average loss of 40 minutes of productive time for every employee, every day, of every year; and that is just Category 1 Smog.

As the pollutant builds and thickens it can cause your organization significant damage.

Category 1 Communication Smog: If your company is like most, you operate in a continual state of Category 1 Communication Smog, and the typical employee will lose 167 hours of productive time per year.

At the 2015 average US salary, benefits and tax levels, that equates to $5,200 per employee per year.

Most people don’t realize the amount of time lost daily due to issues like:

  • Seeking clarification
  • Asking a question multiple times
  • Resolving customer or employee conflicts
  • Never-ending email threads
  • Crisis management due to missed deadlines
  • Re-work

The reason companies often don’t recognize the importance of these issues is that with Category 1 Smog the impact of each issue is too small to be noticed as a financial impact.

While this pollutant could be considered insignificant at the individual issue level, over the course of a year, a company with 20 employees is likely to lose over $100,000 of productive time.

At this level all it takes is a good breeze of education and coaching to clear the air, regain that productive time, and prevent further pollution.

Category 2 Communication Smog: As ineffective communication pollution continues to be added to your environment, the Smog thickens, covering more of your organization. The impact increases, and now becomes visible on your financial statements.

In addition to all of the Category 1 impacts, you start experiencing:

  • Lost sales and customers
  • Increased marketing, customer acquisition and customer service costs
  • Increased staff turnover, hiring and training costs
  • Decreased operational continuity

In Category 2 Communication Smog, the following symptoms appear regularly:

  • Sarcastic and negative comments emitted towards customers, employees and management
  • Employees resistant to raising issues in any forum
  • All levels of staff operate in a CYA (cover your assets) mode
  • Lack of faith in the team and the organization

When you have Category 1 Smog, a good breeze of education and coaching will clear the air but when you reach Category 2, you are going to need gale force winds.

At this level of dysfunction, the cost, time, resources, and organization discomfort required to correct the issue is exponentially greater than Category 1.

Category 3 Communication Smog: Left unattended, Communication Smog will continue to build and the Communication Smog surrounding your team will become so thick that serious financial impacts will be felt.

When communication problems are allowed to evolve to Category 3, the smog becomes so thick that issues escalate and have a high financial impact. You will observe:

  • Prevalent sarcasm and negativity
  • Inappropriate comments about customers and management
  • Conflicting objectives within management
  • A complete breakdown of trust and communication
  • High employee turnover
  • Legal costs skyrocketing due to escalating issues
  • Large-scale customer defections
  • Loss of reputation

Picture the air in a post-apocalyptic Sci-Fi movie; that grey, murky sky, with people scurrying around in the shadows. That is the environment in your company when you reach Category 3 Smog.

The Category 3 Smog is going to require hurricane force winds to clear the air.

Success will be difficult without significant management changes, and a wholesale cultural change.

Don’t think it could happen to you?

Ineffective communication is a slippery slope that left unattended can grow silently until one day you are losing valued customers.

When surveying business owners and executives, concern is warranted as they report that:

  • Communication skills are a critical part of their long term success
  • Virtually none measure the impact of ineffective communication
  • Very few have a comprehensive plan to develop this critical skill

How can something that has this big of an impact on business, get so little attention?

The Fix –Clearing the AIR: Whether you are like most companies and facing a Category 1 Communication Smog or a larger threat to your business, there comes a time where your success will require you to get rid of the smog, and clear the air allowing clean and concise communication to work its magic.

To clear the AIR, simply remember, Acknowledgement, Identification, and Remediation.

Acknowledgement – The first and often hardest step in clearing the air is the acknowledgement of the problem, and that it impacts EVERYONE in the organization.

In order for any plan to be successful, ALL levels of management must agree that communication is important and that everyone has room to improve.

Once there is true acknowledgement that Communication needs to be addressed you can move to the next step.

Identification – In order to maximize the results from any remediation plan, it is critical that the highest impact communication problems be addressed first. To properly assign priority, an assessment should be done that evaluates communication based on:

  • Job title/position
  • Duration of service with the company
  • General categories of communication
  • Common communication issues

Based on the assessment, you can now begin developing a remediation plan that will get you maximum gain quickly, and start clearing the air.

Remediation – Your remediation plan should focus on the processes and skills required to create an environment for clear and concise communications.

By launching initial elements of the remediation plan on high target areas, you are able to quickly gain the momentum and create a ripple effect that will be required to flush the pollution and the smog from your environment.

A common sequence of learning priorities is:

  • Establishing a habit of having a clear intention when communicating
  • Using the “You Focused” presenting (maintaining a focus on the needs of the other to ensure clear communication)
  • Developing and delivering messages with clarity
  • Enhancing your message with improved presentation skills
  • Learning how to formulate and ask powerful questions

Take an intentional approach to communication skills throughout your organization and you will create a clean air environment where communication flows freely and effectively.

You have accounting professionals making sure your money and finances are taken care of and legal professionals keeping you out of trouble. Make sure you have a professional on your team making sure you are not falling victim to Communication Smog.

Mark A. Vickers is a Certified Professional Coach, and Certified World Class Speaking Coach. Mark is a communications consultant focused on helping you and your organization improve performance through improved communication and speaking skills. He is known as a creative author and speaker, and for creating the Communications Challenge, an objective way to measure communication effectiveness.

The Four Keys to Building Rapport: Tearing Down the WALL

Mark VickersBy Mark Vickers

Emily, a sales manager in a large organization, was having significant challenges with her team. Communication with team members was inconsistent, and she continually struggled to motivate them. Her team was regularly missing their monthly objectives, and failed to provide meaningful status updates. The core issue Emily faced is all too common. Anytime you are communicating with people, your ability to create rapport is key to your success. Emily did not realize that there is a WALL between her and the team, and her responsibility to take the WALL down as quickly as possible. Two simple questions helped Emily realize she had not built rapport, or developed any form of relationship with her team members. 1) Have you spent time building a relationship with your team members? 2) Do you know what they like, want, and need at home and at work? In Emily’s case, the answer to both of these questions was no. She was attempting to manage people with whom she had no relationship other than being “the boss”. Establishing strong rapport does not mean learning everything about your customer or employee’s private lives, but rather, showing them that you care about them and what is important to them. Taking the WALL down: The wall between you and other people can be removed by developing your skills and maintaining focus on four key concepts:

  • W- Watch
  • A – Ask
  • L – Listen
  • L – Learn

W – Watch: Observe any master of rapport, and you will see a person who has a keen awareness of their surroundings including other people and how they react. What to watch for before the first word is spoken: When you enter into a rapport building situation, your observation skills will help you determine good starting points for your conversation. Before the first words are said, take a few seconds to take stock of the surroundings. If you are meeting someone in their home or office look for conversation starters or anything that might create common ground. You might look for:

  • Any item that is given a place of prominence
  • What is on their desk and side tables
  • Pictures
  • Awards, memorabilia, or collectibles

If they are coming into your office you will have fewer clues so pay close attention to what they are looking at. When you notice that they are paying special attention to something, it may be a sign of a potential conversation starter. As you are building rapport: Once engaged in a rapport-building conversation, your skill at observing the reactions of the other person will help you guide the conversation in the most productive direction. Pay close attention to:

  • Their eyes
  • Their body positioning
  • Their gestures
  • What they look at during the conversation

Caution: When you are observing people as part of rapport-building, never make an assessment based on a single “sign”. People are called “individuals” for a reason and each will respond in their own way. Look for combinations of signs and signals, and changes over the course of the conversation to understand more accurately how they are responding to you. A – Ask: Asking powerful questions will provide you the most reliable way to create rapport. Beyond just asking powerful questions, having a strategy with preplanned questions frees you to focus more intently on the other person. As you consider the questions you will use to build rapport, choose questions that will:

  • Show you taking an interest in them
  • Build a relationship based on the needs of the other person
  • Show your understanding of your area of expertise
  • Gather important information to direct the conversation

By asking questions that show a genuine interest in the other person’s wants, needs, and interests, they are more likely to open up to you. If you have similar rapport-building situations on a regular basis, to take the time to develop a question library that you draw from when building rapport. Caution: During the rapport-building segment of a conversation, it is easy to slip into the “I” mode, telling the other person everything about what you do. Your objective is to get them into “I” mode. Keep the rapport-building about them. They should be doing most of the talking. L – Listen: You have asked your powerful questions and now it is time to employ the most important rapport-building skill – listening. So many professionals ask all the right questions, but they don’t really listen to the answers they are given. These professionals assume they are building rapport, but they forget to really listen:

  • Intently to the words
  • For changes in tone, volume, or speed
  • Vocal cues for emotions like excited, contemplative, annoyed
  • For vocal cue and body language changes
  • Watch for changes and correlations between words/vocal/body to establish base line responses

In addition to paying close attention to what the other is saying, become an expert at listening to what is not being said in your rapport building discussion. There are two specific situations to be aware of: the one word answers, and intentional omissions and avoidance. If you’re asking powerful questions and all you’re getting back is one word answers, odds are you’re going down a track that the other person is not interested in pursuing. In addition to single words answers, it is not unusual for the other person to provide partial answers as they omit the details in an attempt to avoid complete disclosure. In many cases, the omitted information is exactly what you want to learn, but they are not yet comfortable sharing. Make a quick mental note and find a way to come back to that point later in the discussion. Caution: Rapport building should never feel like an interrogation. Remember that your objective is to get to know as much about them by letting them know and feel that you care about what is in their best interest. L – Learn: Learning how to build rapport is about trying things, watching and listening, observing the end result and learning from it so that you adjust your approach the next time. There’s no one right way, or a magic process to building rapport so it is important to learn what works for you and the situations you work in. Become an ACTIVE student of rapport building:

  • Learn what works for you with different people and different situations
  • Become more aware of how others react to you
  • Try new approaches when encountering roadblocks
  • After each attempt at rapport building do a critical assessment
  • Watch how others build rapport

Less than one month after Emily began focusing on removing the WALL with her team, people who were distant became engaged both personally and professionally, and overall team performance began to improve. Become a student of building rapport and over time you will see your ability to generate rapport will develop quickly and your success rate skyrocket. Mark A. Vickers is a Certified Professional Coach, a Gitomer Certified Advisor, and Certified World Class Speaking Coach. Mark is a communications consultant focused on helping you and your organization achieve Excellence through improved communication and speaking skills. He is known for creating and delivering specialized and innovative programs to help his clients.