How do I build rapport with my reader?

Rapport is the unconscious “connection” you establish with another person, which we also describe as being “on the same wavelength”.  When  writing a book, we don’t have the luxury of using our body language to communicate, so we have to create that connection through our words.  Editing gives us the opportunity to turn words into our voice (personality).

Definition of rapport

Noun – a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well.


mid 17th century: French, from rapporter ‘bring back’.

Evaluating your style

Think carefully about your readers before you begin.

  • Who are you writing for?
  • Are you writing for people in a particular field, such as psychology, health, engineering, sales and marketing?
  • You cannot assume the reader has knowledge of the terminology and concepts you will use.
  • Do you need to provide background material and additional references?  What will these be?
  • What expectations does your reader have?
  • What kind of thinking / learning style might they have.  E.g., an accountant will think differently to an artist (typically).  You may be highly visual, but what about your reader?
  • They may be experts, but what is their reading level – think about the words you use or how you might explain something.
  • How fussy will they be over precise punctuation and grammar?
  • Are your case study characters believable?
  • Do you have an ‘argumentative’ readership, will they agree or disagree with your point of view?  What proof can you offer?
  • What about the tone you are setting?

How to work out if you have rapport

Write a short piece about something which you know really well

  • Create a list of criteria against which you will use to evaluate your writing (think style, voice, tone, type of words, intended reader, etc.)
  • Give your work to a trusted friend and ask them how engaged they felt
  • Trust that their feedback will help you to write a better book
  • What are the things you must watch out for in your writing?
  • How can you be more flexible?

Things to consider

  1. Start each chapter in a way that really sets out to make a first impression. Think of those 7 seconds someone takes to form an image of you
  2. Write to just one reader – the one reader that you must engage with
  3. Make sure your writing reflects your values and the way in which you want your brand and book to be perceived
  4. It’s all about them, not you. What do you think they want to read about that will help them (insert whatever your book is intended to do)
  5. Become a storyteller, people connect emotionally to stories

There is a lot more to explore in rapport, this is just a taster to get you thinking about how you will make sure you engage with your reader. Look out for more on rapport.

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