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Claire Doole is a former BBC correspondent and international spokeswoman who is passionate about helping people communicate with confidence. Since 2006, she has successfully trained hundreds of professionals in the art of presenting and public speaking, talking to the media, managing communications in a crisis, and writing for the web. In addition, she has coached C-level executives and public figures to give powerful TEDx and TED style talks in Europe and the Middle East. A Swiss and UK national, Claire trains and coaches in French and English.

Claire is also a highly experienced moderator having facilitated panel discussions with government ministers, NGO activists, humanitarians and human rights specialists at major events.

www.doolecommunications.com

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Rapport is the foundation of influence and impact. An American psychiatrist and psychologist, Milton Erickson, once said, "With rapport, everything is possible. Without it, nothing is possible."

So what is this magical ingredient in effective communications? It is about being on the same wavelength as someone else so that we feel connected. It often involves having shared values, beliefs or similar life experiences. I know, for example, that I usually instantly connect with someone who is or has been a journalist due to my time at the BBC.

But how do you build rapport with an audience made up of many different individuals? This is vital when you are speaking in public presenting, giving a keynote speech or sitting on a panel at a conference.

Many of the things that you do naturally one-on-one are applicable, such as finding common ground, asking questions and actively listening to what they are saying.

But when you want to build rapport with an audience, you need to use these skills more consciously.

Let me explain by sharing my list of how to do it, based on my experience as a moderator and public speaking coach.

Finding common ground

When you prepare your speech or remarks you need to think about your audience first and foremost. What are their needs, expectations and challenges? Far too often presenters think that communication is a one-way process but to have impact you need to ensure that your message has got across to the audience so that they are not only engaged but also feel, say or think differently as a result of your presentation.

CDC handlingQA

By Claire Doole, Claire Doole Communications

I was at a conference recently where during the Q and A session, the moderator failed to stop a woman from sharing her life experience as a refugee with the audience. Interesting, as it was how she ended up in Oxford from Myanmar, it was not relevant to the subject of the panel.

As the audience became restless with many rolling their eyes, the moderator did try to interrupt and ask for her question. She said she had no question but thought the audience should know about what she went through!

This made me think of how important it is as a moderator or as a presenter that you handle effectively the Q and A session.

Below are some tips based on my experience as a moderator and presenter who trains in both disciplines.

The audience member, who doesn't ask a question, but makes a comment.

  • Make it clear before you take a question that you want a question not comments. Take a leaf out of the book of Christiane Amanpour, the doyenne of CNN, when she moderated a panel at the UN in Geneva.

Claire Doole Late July 2018© Caux Forum 2018

By Claire Doole, Claire Doole Communications

Recently, I coached the head of a large Swiss NGO for a series of speeches she is giving at a popular summer forum.

We worked on a structure and delivery that holds the attention of a global audience from different backgrounds - academic, non-governmental, diplomatic and corporate.

What the coaching reminded me of is that the theories on memory recall developed by a German Professor during the last century are still valid today. Namely, the ability of the brain to retain information decreases over time.

Professor Hermann Ebbinghaus developed the "forgetting curve" which shows that the sharpest decline is during the first 20 minutes and then it levels off after 1 day. The speed of the decline depends on a number of factors such as how easy, visual or relevant the information is to retain. However, on average as the graph below shows people only retain 40% after the first day.

Claire Doole Joachim Loew credit AFPPhoto credit: AFP

By Claire Doole, Claire Doole Communications

The coach of the German football team, Joachim Löw, must have given an exceptional motivational speech to his players at half-time on Saturday evening when they were trailing Sweden by a goal in the World Cup in Russia.

As defending champions, Germany faced the prospect of going out in the opening rounds. However, the team rallied to score two goals - the last one in extra time.

This made me think of one of the best motivational speeches ever written and delivered. In the 1999 film, "Any Given Sunday", Al Pacino plays the coach of a great American football team that is struggling to make the playoffs. Before the big game, he gives this speech to his players with the aim of motivating them to put aside their differences and play as a team.

Have a look at his speech. http://essaysfromexodus.scripting.com/stories/storyReader$1492

Apart from the locker room language, it has all the ingredients of a speech that inspires and motivates.

Claire Doole EYCHModerating a Q&A style panel discussion for the European Year of Cultural Heritage.

By Claire Doole, Claire Doole Communications

After a busy month of moderating for the UN, European Commission and trade federations in Brussels and Geneva, plus running how to moderate workshops for public and private sector institutions, I wanted to share my top 6 tips for stimulating panel discussions.

The common theme is that while a professional moderator always adds some sparkle, it is difficult to wave a magic wand, if the event organisers have not thought editorially about the panellists and format.

Tip number 1

Select the right panellists for the topic. It sounds obvious, but too often panellists are chosen for political reasons rather than for what they bring to the discussion. Even the most seasoned moderators find it very hard to stimulate an engaging discussion with people who don't have opposing views or different perspectives.

There is nothing worse than a panel where everybody says the same thing. In this case, as the moderator you have no option but to play devil's advocate. I was once forced to do this during a discussion on refugees. Afterwards, a young student in the audience came up to me and accused me of not liking refugees. I told her that I used to be a spokesperson for the UN Refugee Agency but my role was not to like or dislike but to stimulate discussion.