Training Delivery

by Terry Wilkinson

Building rapport

If the group does not buy into you fast, you will spend the whole time playing catch up. To get this buy in, you need rapport, and the earlier you can get rapport established the better.

Rapport is such a crucial part of all interactions bwteen people that there is a whole topic in this resource on advanced Rapport building skills. We will mention some of the basics here.

Without rapport, your training will flop. It is that simple. As a trainer, you need to establish rapport with the group. With a small group, you can gain rapport with each individual in turn. This obviously becomes impossible with a group of more than a few members.

If you can get the group more formed, more cohesive, more in rapport within itself, your task is much easier. A simple way to bring a large group into rapport with you and with each other is to get people doing something in unison. This could be something as simple as laughter or something more purposeful, such as an exercise.

If the situation allows, you can get them doing something unusual, such as all standing up, turning to the right, massaging the shoulders of the person in front of them for 30 seconds, and then turning around and returning the compliment. (Be careful that this does not transgress any behavioural boundaries people may have. Ensure that people realise that they do not have to aprticipate.)

You could tell a story that has some universal experience within it that will elicit a common response from all the group members. This will tend to synchronise their emotional states, which will lead to group rapport. Of course, you too need to access this state along with the group.

The basic place to start with rapport is to match some attribute of the person or group with which you want to establish rapport.

Group attributes

Learn something about the above attributes of the group, such as

  • Dress
  • Language patterns and jargon
  • Energy levels
  • Speed of speech
  • Group values and beliefs

and match them, where appropriate.

Before you meet them, find out something about them or their workplace. Identify something you can claim to have in common with many of them, and use this.

Getting rapport with a group starts long before you actually stand front and centre. The rapport-gaining process includes such things as pre-course materials and the way people are treated before they even enter the training room. This all affects their level of comfort with what is going on. Someone who is comfortable with things will much more easily fall into rapport with the group and with you.

Instead of sitting off to one side as your group files in, meet and greet them. If you can gain rapport one on one, this will make the whole group process much easier once you get going.

There is more on rapport in the topics on Rapport, Presentations, Facilitation and NLP.