the art of conversation

Published: 13th June, 2014

We’re more connected than ever so maybe we need to work harder at the old-fashioned art of conversation. When I set-up Big Picture selling the training and resources I didn’t realise that I would spend so much time piecing together engaging session plans and unpicking the output.

Working with a range of engaging business professionals has provided an insight into what makes a meeting or workshop feel right and cover the ground it needs to. At its centre there is a conversation, or a series, to share information, understanding each other’s needs and to agree what needs to be done. You can watch a few of our practitioners talk about their own experiences and read here a couple of our values around conversations.

Our experience is to provide a clear framework by way of expectation setting around the conversation. Similar in a way to lesson outcomes we suggest going further into the meat of the thing to layout what kind of ground you might want to cover. This is the kind of breadth (the business areas) and the depth (what features might you want to bring into play). This a great way to ensure you manage your time effectively- to remember to cover the areas you need to and get to where you need to be. We suggest some ‘hopping off’ points to provide some options and routes to your end goal that you can bring into play as you go.

We’re looking for a high quality of prompting between the individuals or the group. With the scope of the chat better defined what are the key questions and prompts required to get the dialogue moving. We judge this using our ‘Needle Flickering‘ pattern- that is a bit like a CPU monitor showing in this case how much of the good stuff is flowing. At each point in the chat if you’re not developing your thinking to contribute to the end goal re-set the prompt and try again. Better still having a pre-defined path or check-list helps with providing a proven place to pick-off the next discussion point.

It’s great to see a conversation flow going back and forth. It’s a good sign that all parties are engaged and progress is being made. I remember listening to some foreign language tuition where the guy recognised that when you’re trying your new language getting it ‘over the net’ is the key so your pal can knock it back maybe with some correction. This is what we call ‘Positive Feedback‘ to firstly show you’re exploring an area you may not know everything about and secondly open for correction and then taking on further information. With all parties comfortable with this approach you’re in business as the process is self-fulfilling and your chances are high at reaching where you need to be.

We love good conversations and people we meet do to .. if you’re struggling with yours read and watch more here and try out some of our tips!