Why a Simple Rephrasing Works So Well

By Blog

The other day, one of my readers sent me this cool HubSpot blog post called Try This Insanely Easy Rapport-Building Exercise to Boost Your Charisma, and said I HAD to read it. So I read it (and enjoyed it), then replied back to my reader asking WHY I HAD to read it. Her response was simply, “It reminds me of one of your presentations and your simplification formula. I thought you’d know why does this simple rephrasing of words work so well.”

A quick synopsis/example of the Hubspot post:

Instead of asking someone, “How are you doing?” Ask the person, “How’s this [day of the week] treating you?”

The writer gives lots more examples and goes into detail about training yourself to ask more thought-provoking questions, but I want to explain why this simple rephrasing of words works so well.

  • web_offer_banner_3_contentmarketingIt’s Different – The author uses examples from shopping at retail stores and if you’re like me, you’re tired of people asking, “How are you?” Which I usually reply, “Good. How are you?”, which gets me a canned response. My husband even noted a while back that most neighbors ask the same canned question when he was walking the dog and they would cross past him before he even had a chance to reply. Using the rephrased question catches people slightly off guard and makes them stop and think for a second.
  • You Seem Interested – Because the question is different (although it asks the same thing as the canned question), the person you’re talking with feels you’re interested in them.
  • It Sparks a Conversation – The blog’s author speaks about this “trick” as a way to build rapport and to start a conversation. She suggests trying it for a month to see what you learn about people and even notes that after a month, you’ll probably be able to read body language well enough to know whether to ask the person anything at all.
  • Build a Rapport – As the blog title suggests, this technique is about building a rapport with the other person. Your interest and conversation build a rapport quickly with a complete stranger. Do you know a charismatic person that can make nearly anyone smile, just by striking up a conversation with them? Those people naturally build rapport by asking these types of questions, having a conversation, and smiling. Rephrasing your wording allows you to build the same kind of rapport as a naturally charismatic person.
  • You’re Memorable – If you’ve ever worked retail, most customers are the same and each conversation tends to blur into each other. Being asked a different question gets you out of auto-pilot mode and the conversation makes you memorable.

Why am I, a presentation coach, talking so much about building rapport and about having a conversation with people?

web_offer_banner_3_contentmarketingIt’s simple really. A presentation is just like a conversation, but usually with more people and you’ll probably do more talking than listening. Secondly, the difference between mediocre and great speakers, especially polished keynote speakers, is building rapport with the audience. You may have even seen a presenter walk on stage, smile, and ask the audience the rhetorical question, “How are you doing this Tuesday afternoon?” That question gets a different response then if the speaker asked, “How are you doing?”

If you can build a rapport with your audience, engage them like conversating with your friends, and make them feel that you’re interested in them (hmm…being audience-centric), then you’ll be a well-liked, memorable presenter.

Additional Resources

How Speak Simple Can Help You

Win more work, increasing your billing rate, and prospects coming to you are all results of being an excellent presenter. Erica Olson created Speak Simple to help technical professionals to become comfortable presenting and excel at each presentation, whether a bid presentation or an educational, content marketing presentation. Learn more about Speak Simple’s flagship program is SpeakU, a self-guided presentation training program.

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