Originally published November 3, 2014
- Ask questions to stimulate discussion — include questions that everyone can answer without fear of being wrong.
- Ask people to respond with their thoughts — especially those who have not been heard or may be reluctant to speak up.
- Concentrate on listening — really hear what others are saying.
- Don’t plan your next statement while others are talking — pay attention to the discussion.
- Write down things to remember so you don’t forget them — this will allow you to focus on listening rather than trying not to forget.
- Respond to what others say — this will show that you are listening.
- Use people’s names — they will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
- Speak loudly, clearly, and not too quickly — this allows others, including non-English speakers, to understand what you are saying.
- For in-person conversations, look others in the eye — periodically rotate your gaze between all participants.
- Don’t talk too long — pause regularly to allow others to ask questions and get a word in.
- Smile and use hand gestures — be sure the gestures are positive, not intimidating.
- Acknowledge the points of others — praise them if possible.
- Wait for a natural pause in the conversation — don’t jump in with your next point while others are still speaking.
- If others start talking while you are talking, don’t raise your voice or quicken your pace — hear them out, and then resume what you were saying if it still applies.
- Don’t make the conversation just about you — bring up topics you know will be of interest to others.
- Articulate your own point of view — and allow for others to do the same.
- Tell stories — gain and hold the interest of the participants.
- Use humor when it fits — make sure it is appropriate and will be understood by all.
- Keep the conversation moving — when a topic has been discussed long enough, make a new point or ask a new question.
- Recognize when a conversation should end, either due to time limits, or when it has run its course — summarize highlights, review next steps, and thank the participants.
- When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
- What did you want to be when you went to college?
- What was your first job after college? Why did you make this choice?
- How did you get into your current field?
- What would you do if you weren’t doing your current job?
- Do your family and friends understand what you do for a living? Do you even bother to explain?
- What is your name? What is the story behind your name?
- If time, money, or other constraints were removed, where would you choose to vacation and why?
- What did your parents do for a living? What impact did that have on your choice of careers?
- Can you share a situation that has occurred in your life that you feel provides insight as to your character?
- Do you have a memory of receiving a favorite gift? What was it, and why was it special?
- What is a passion of yours that you rarely share with people at work? Why not?
- What was a turning point in your life? How did it affect you?
- SHAM Discussion Group
- Relearning the Art of Asking Questions by Tom Pohlmann and Neethi Mary Thomas.
- How to Run a Great Virtual Meeting by Keith Ferrazzi
- Three Rules For Holding Virtual Meetings That People Don’t Hate by Shani Harmon
- Guided Insights by Nancy Settle-Murphy
- Conversations by Nancy Settle-Murphy