Tuesday, 30 April 2019
Make light work of meetings, conferences or networking events by using these tried-and-tested conversational gambits.
It’s said that we have just seven seconds to make a good first impression – and what we say in that time is paramount to how we are perceived and received.
Eve Menezes Cunningham, a self-care coach, says:
This will help ease any anxiety you feel about attending, and encourage you to focus on what you want to get out of the event.
While it’s possible that they won’t yet know, they’re likely to be able to respond with useful information that can get you both talking.
People generally want to help others feel more at ease and, if they’re new too, you can bond over that.
This will not only give you practical information but you might end up making plans to meet later in the day, too, helping you relax more into the first part of the event.
Tom Charman, tech start-up co-founder, business mentor and speaker, says:
This gives the person a personality, and lets you understand the sort of things that they’re interested in.
I saw this on television series ‘An Idiot Abroad’, and couldn’t stop laughing the first time I heard Karl Pilkington say “bulls*** detector”. I haven’t yet been in a situation where people don’t laugh when I explain the story.
This normally divides a room and people have different reasons and experiences as to why they’re one or the other.
This reminds people of good weather, which lifts spirits. Plus, people will usually come up with some pretty interesting things, which will give you a better sense of the person you’re talking to.
It’s a clichéd question, but it’s always really interesting to hear any answer other than Richard Branson or Elon Musk.
Marc Ford, business coach and host of The Best Kept Business Secret podcast, says that thinking of FORM (family, occupation, recreation, message) gives structure to a conversation:
This gives you information that will be useful at the next meeting, giving you the chance to follow up and ask about, say, their son’s football match.
This shows you are interested in them and not just their business (or just a sales pitch).
This gives people the opportunity to open up as an individual, rather than just a business person.
Keep it topical but light-hearted.
Guy Clapperton, who runs media training and facilitates conferences, suggests these tactics as a useful starting point:
Your prospects will respond better if you get to know about them, rather than lecturing them about you.
“I help people with anxiety” tells someone more than “I specialise in meditation techniques”.
19. Find some common ground as quickly as possible but make sure that it actually is common ground. There’s no point in launching into a monologue about that day’s football/rugby match if team sports are not their thing...
20. If you really can’t think of anything to say, say so! You’ll soon find a load of people will pile in with “Me neither!” and you can start to have a laugh.
Janet Murray, author, keynote speaker and founder of Soulful PR, says:
Not the most imaginative start but open-ended questions help to get the conversation flowing.
When you give someone a compliment they usually smile – which is great for breaking down barriers – and then tell you where they got it from, which opens up a conversation.
This helps you find common ground with the person you’re talking to, which is good for building rapport.
This is a great conversation starter: it shows you’ve done your research on the event and the attendees. Most event organisers now create Twitter lists of guests, which means it’s easy enough to do your research before you attend.
This encourages people to share information about what they do and what they value – which should give you plenty to talk about.