The art of conversation is a craft, something even experts can always be improving upon. Successful conversations achieve the desired goal, whether that is to recruit and persuade someone, or to collect high quality information about that person. The elements that make a conversation successful are often the softer characteristics, and rely on active listening and high emotional intelligence. In this five-part series we will discuss basic conversation format and add in best practices to develop the softer conversation skills.
PART 3: SHAPING VISION AND EXPECTATIONS
Usually a participant will know what they want out of any conversation, but there are a number of different paths, tools, and options to achieve the desired goal. In this stage we look at how to identify the person’s end goal, create a path to achieve these objectives, and then shape their vision and expectations towards that pathway.
How do we do this? Preparation.
It’s more than just thinking through the possible objections or questions they may ask. It’s solidifying your conviction in why this is the best way forward and preparing multiple tools to bring them along with you.
Here are some things to prepare:
- WIIFM – What’s In It For Me. This is not a new concept but it is the central one to convincing anyone. Human nature guides us to make decisions that are in direct benefit to ourselves. Knowing why this outcome is best and having multiple beneficial angles means you will have a variety of convincing points to make. And with that – don’t use them all at once! Know the order in which you will make your case, and which points to save and use to combat any hesitance or objection.
- Prepare multiple asks or options. As you meander through the conversation, new information may be made available. For example, as you go through this shaping conversation, the person may reveal that they're quite skilled at something else than what you initially planned for. Preparation can go as narrow as knowing multiple actions that ultimately work towards the same outcome, or preparing a diverse and unrelated list of needs (in priority order so you know what to ask for relative to other items).
- Know what you want to know. Asking questions that bat around the bush, or don’t deliver the information you’re looking for are misleading and a was waste of time. Having a thorough understanding of the goals is critical to forming good questions. Test your questions. How does your colleague answer that query? Should it be a “how” question instead of a “why”? Make sure the question matches the answer you want.
Next up is how to successfully execute the conversation!
Read Part 2 of the Successful Conversations Series by clicking here.
For further advice on how to build and engage the community for your organisation, please contact Campaign Capital.
CGM Communications influences and inspires action through connection and the sharing of stories. We support strategic communication with the community, government and media.