Most people rarely stop to think about the importance of how to conduct a simple conversation well. Whether meeting someone for the first time, pitching a project to a potential supporter, or a million other situations, how you handle that conversation can make the difference between success or failure.
I call it conversational discipline and it means practicing the techniques that make you a compelling conversational partner.
- For instance, I had a meeting recently with a man who wouldn’t stop talking. He just droned on and on, and whenever I’d try to add something, he just increased his volume and kept talking.
- Others have words they use over and over again like “literally,” “specifically,” or “actually.”
- Others use fill-in words like “um,” “you know,” or “like.”
- Still others ramble and never get to the point. I’ve seen this over and over when I ask someone about a recent project. They talk and talk and never really answer my question.
This may sound sacrilegious, but you even see it when people pray and thoughtlessly repeat words or phases like “Father God” or “Lord” before and after EVERY SINGLE LINE. Before you get upset, understand that I love it that people pray, but when it’s something like:
Father God, we come today to ask your blessing Father God. Father God, watch over this family, Father God, and keep them safe Father God. Father God, we know that you love us Father God, and Father God, we’re thankful for the sacrifice you made on the cross Father God.” (It goes on.)
Never forget that how you say it is just as important as what you say.
Sometimes, you just have to be comfortable with silence. In any conversation, if you aren’t disciplined about how you communicate, the people around you get distracted, bored, and even annoyed.
I’d go so far to say that most people fail – not because of the idea they’re pitching, or the message they’re sharing – but they fail because they don’t take the time and practice to apply the discipline to speak in a clear, articulate and engaging manner.