As a trainer I am often asked “how do you build rapport with an entire group?” Without specialized training it is for some people already hard enough to create rapport with one individual, especially to get another human being to trust and feel comfortable around where it concerns a personal matter. A higher level of rapport is also needed when making a large decision, or even a large purchase for instance. When you have rapport with someone, they share more, are more likely to want to follow you. In whatever you wish them to follow you in, either it being buying something from you, trust your expertise on a topic, or guiding them into change.

Lets assume that you were either trained, or naturally able to create rapport with one person, a stranger even. Then how do you go about establishing group rapport? There are a few simple steps involved to achieve this.

Step 1: Watch Your Audience
This means, you have to look. This may be a silly thing to say. But you would be surprised how many public speakers are so stuck inside their own minds that they aren’t actually paying attention what is going in the room.

Step 2: Find the rapport leader!
Build Rapport with a GroupWhen you watch your audience, you will start noticing patterns. When one person crosses his or her leg, the person next to them does too. Or one person leans forward, or crosses their arms, starts breathing at a different rate etc. Not much time will pass until there is a chain reaction of several individuals doing the same. That is, if there is group rapport. Which establishes itself fairly quickly and automatically, especially in a seminar that lasts more than a few hours. Your aim to find that individual that starts the chain reaction. Then pending on the size and make-up of the audience, there could be multiple rapport leaders. In a room of 30, I have experienced there being only one rapport leader, sometimes 4-5. It is definitely a small percentage of the group, and it is easy to notice if you look for the patterns in your audience.

Step 3: build rapport with the rapport leader
You do this in the exact same way as if you would build rapport with a single individual.

It shouldn’t be a surprise, how few people in the world have been taught how to build rapport. Even in the most naturally skilled, there is room for improvement if they were to study how rapport is built. I am a trainer of NLP  (techniques taken from some of the most renowned psychotherapists in the world), and one of the things I teach my students is how to build rapport. The methodology of NLP offers multiple ways as to how to build rapport. In combination, you would become a very powerful rapport builder. Examples of creating rapport are: matching and mirroring in different ways, using the same predicates, paying attention to their psychogeography etc. Sounds very complicated? It can actually be learned quickly, it is only a small portion of NLP.

NLP, building rapport, improving communication skills, becoming a better public speaker can be achieved by anyone. If you wish to take training on the topic: 

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  1. Love this article Nikkie,

    As a Certified Master Trainer one of the essentials is to connect with your participants almost “at once”. They will look to us to lead not only the conversation, but the energy and intention of the group dynamics. As I set a Higher Intention for any given group, everything in my body will “speak” that intention and, both consciously and subconciously, as a consequence my body starts sending non-verbal signals that are picked up subliminaly by the group; slowly creating what I call a “field of possibilites” which is where rapport happens.

    Using the appropriate VAK language to deepen that relationship, once established, is good use of NLP to maintain that rapport.

  2. Jose, this why I adore you!!!! It was brilliant to have a senior trainer in class, because it allows for such amazing exchange.
    Yes, I fully agree I believe a trainer and the designer of a course should have a higher intention in mind. I think it ends up reaching beyond a group rapport, it allows for a collective consciousness of a group to be created and the possibility that aside from a seperate set of individual goals being met for there also to be a group goal. A trainer must take that responsibility as an advocate for the group as a whole.