• Sample pages
  • Page 1

    An acquaintance of mine, Troy, can shut down a party quicker than a police raid. Worse, he has no intention of doing so.

    Take last Sunday afternoon for an example. About thirty of us gathered at a local golf club after church for a leisurely lunch. Seated on both sides of two long tables, first one and then another opened a new discussion topic. “What are you thinking about the elections?” Two or three jumped in with opinions. Then Troy. “You have to look at this upcoming election historically.” He waxed on for two or three minutes, providing historical “significance” for the elections rather than mere opinion.

    Then someone asked for an update on the investigation into the latest terrorist threat. Troy gave a full report, including how-tos on prevention. Someone changed the subject to the latest movies. You guessed it: Troy gave us a lengthy rundown on all the reviews, told us which reviewers were most credible, explained how the movie got its funding, and ended with how much money the average movie made over its lifetime. By the fourth time Troy had hijacked the conversation to “explain” things to us, a deadly pall had fallen over the table. One by one, guests left the table to form smaller chat groups around the room.

    As I said, Troy can disperse a crowd faster than a deranged gunman—with only his mouth loaded. A little expertise engages—just not on every topic.

    Share Air Time

    Be conversational, but not captivating. Okay, if you’re dating, aim for captivating in the charming sense of the word. But otherwise, don’t take prisoners. Those around you should not feel trapped when you talk.

    Lessons learned from Troy? Let me contradict New York City’s “If you see something, say something” slogan where conversation is concerned: Just because you know something doesn’t mean you have to say something. If the thought occurs that you may be rambling on too long, you are. If people often cut you off with, “I’ve got it,” you’re probably being repetitive.

  • Page 2

    If you see eyes glaze over, you’ve lapsed into lecture mode and lost your audience. As T.S. Eliot observed, “Words strain, crack, and sometime break, under the burden. “ Heavy users should have to pay a licensing fee when they exceed their limit.

    Learn to listen. Take a breath. Show interest in other people. Ask questions about what they have to say. And the longer you listen and ask questions, you might be surprised at how fascinating others find you as a conversationalist.

    Prepare Talking Points

    On the other hand, have you ever tried to engage someone in conversation when you get only limited responses? Imagine yourself in the following exchange:

    “Depak and Sonya host great get-togethers, don’t they?” you toss out.

    “Yes, they do.”


    You try again: “I hear the Engineering team got turned down on their patent application last week. I guess that was a big disappointment. They had been counting on that to launch an entire line of engines.”

    “That’s what I hear.”


    “How will that affect your department?” you persist.

    “I don’t know yet.”

    Even an automated greeting responds well enough to take you to the next menu option.

    When you know you’ll be participating in an important meeting discussion, giving an opinion on a controversial issue, or defending a budget increase, prepare ahead of time a list of key points you want to communicate.

  • About the Author

    Dianna Booher’s extensive and ongoing research and published works in the field of business communication and productivity serve as the foundation for over 40 books on communication skills training . Dianna has received the highest awards in the professional speaking industry, including induction into the CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame®. She is a member of the prestigious Speakers Roundtable. As a result of Dianna's work among top corporations on communication issues, Executive Excellence magazine has recognized Dianna on its list of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in America. Additionally, Successful Meetings magazine named Dianna on its list of 21 Top Speakers for the 21st Century! Dianna has been interviewed by Good Morning America, CNN, CNBC, USA Today, the Washington Post, New York Newsday, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Wall Street Journal Radio, National Public Radio, Bloomberg, Investors Business Daily, Fox Family Network, Reader's Digest, Working Woman, Industry Week, McCall's, Cosmopolitan, Success, Entrepreneur, among other national radio, TV, and newspapers. She holds a master's degree in English from the University of Houston.

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Become a Great Conversationalist

Have you ever been to a dinner party where someone drones on and on about every subject to show off his or her in-depth knowledge? Or have you heard someone using complex jargon to try to build rapport as an insider? How about the person who shows a lack of sensitivity about appropriate topics on significant occasions? In this ebook, executive communications expert Dianna Booher gives you straight talk about how to be the conversationalist that engages rather than enrages. Learn to reframe sensitive issues to present your key point or message in the positive way. Select the best words to deliver bad news or negative feedback without breaking the relationship or destroying morale. Learn the keys to participating in strategic conversations with your peers, boss, and customers so that they see you in a positive light.

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