“People will receive more from a communicator with average content who connects than they ever will from a speaker with great content who never connects."
-- John C. Maxwell
"If it is true that almost everything we become and accomplish in life occurs with and through other people, then the ability to connect and create rapport with others is the most important skill we can learn."
Whatever your position or role, whoever your primary audience is, think for a moment about how you've been communicating your message. Have you made the message all about you, or have you made sure that it is all about them?
Consider a husband and wife who are struggling to communicate, a parent and a child, or an employer and their team. You don't have to speak in front of a large crowd to have an audience, but regardless of the size, you need to learn to connect with them before you can ever hope to get them to hear and respond to your message.
Realize You Are Not The Main Attraction
If you make your communication and your message about you -- what you want, what you feel, what you need -- your audience is going to pick up on that real quick, and they won't like it. Your job as a communicator is not to get attention, impress others with your skill, or gain recognition. This way doesn't create a connection but a wedge. But if you can get over yourself, you'll open the door to connecting with your audience.
Make Your First Impression Your Best Impression
Did you know that it takes roughly seven seconds for people to decide whether or not they like you? So how do you make the best impression right away? Often when we are in front of people, we focus on ourselves -- what do they think about me? what does my hair look like? do I have anything in my teeth? are they paying attention? -- but to truly make the best impression, we should focus on making much of the other person. John Maxwell will tell you (and I have first-hand experience of this) that regardless of the size of his audience, he tries to say something encouraging or positive about them within the first 30 seconds of the interaction because the audience doesn't care what you have to say until they know that you care about them.
"The entire population of the world, with one minor exception, is composed of others." -- John C. Maxwell
Be Intentional in Seeking to Understand Their World
As Jim Rohn once said, "Start with where people are before you take them where they want to go." If you want to connect with your audience, you need to meet them where they are and find common ground in that space. "The greater the commonality, the greater the potential for effective communication." For example, an employer won't connect with his employees on upcoming process changes to increase productivity and profits if he doesn't first recognize and address that they are concerned about losing their jobs or having their hours cut. Instead, he should intentionally acknowledge and validate their feelings and establish commonality before moving on to the solution of the changes.
"Communication is about removing barriers," so to connect with your audience, you want to do whatever you can to ensure that they feel like you are approachable -- emotionally, intellectually, and physically. As communicators, our biggest hindrance to being personable with our audience is not being comfortable with who we are. John calls this the Approachability Principle, if you are comfortable with yourself, you will make others comfortable with you, but if you are uncomfortable, the audience can sense that and will be distracted by it.
"You can develop charisma when you focus on others by being present, projecting confidence, and creating warmth."
If you want to develop charisma in your communication, be 100% present in your interactions with others. People who succeed at this make their audience feel like there is no one else in the world but them.
In addition to presence, you must learn to develop confidence by believing the best about your audience, recognizing that your message has helped you, knowing that it will help them, and believing that your audience will respond positively to you and your message. "If you possess confidence in yourself and others, and that confidence is focused on adding value to people, you will be attractive to others."
Creating warmth in your communication means that your audience feels seen, appreciated, accepted, and important, not just because they are in your audience but because you like and value them as individuals. This warmth inspires them to believe in themselves and what is possible for them.
This week, answer these questions:
Which of these steps do you need to develop and why?
How would developing these steps impact your communication?
How can you be intentional in developing these steps?