Not everyone is a great conversationalist, and even the best have a tough day now and then. Plus, we've all had a client that is challenging to talk to. So, what sort of things can you do to make better conversation? Here are four ideas:
1) Be interesting by doing interesting things "Interesting" can be simple or complex. Great conversations can come from things as simple as going to a gallery opening, book reading, or going to a concert. Or for more extreme conversation topics, try running a marathon or sky diving, running with the bulls, or inventing the next great micro brew—I think you get the idea. Talk about, blog about, and share your interesting experiences.
2) Talk to yourself first Sometimes I go though the steps of an upcoming meeting in my office or in the car. I work through possible questions that may arise or topics I can bring up if there is a lull. This exercise helps me visualize my presentation as a whole as well as prepare for any surprises that come to light. Doing this makes me more comfortable, which makes my presentation go better, and keeps the conversation flowing throughout the entire meeting.
3) Read interesting stuff I have found that my conversations with clients, or anyone in general, improve when I set time aside to read. It doesn't have to just be books. Read up on your favorite blogs or magazines, and suddenly you'll have a lot more to talk about. Plus, being up on current trends, technologies, etc. has led me to more work, as it results in deeper conversations and better relationships.
4) Do your homework Nothing beats research before a meeting. Reviewing your clients' materials, their competition, or learning a little about their industry simply adds to the understanding and depth a meeting can have. Sure, this is a no-brainer. But if you are like me, it's easy to lose track of time and never get around to doing it. With the ability to Google anything, getting the latest about your client's industry or company is easy, so make sure it doesn't get brushed aside.
So, what do you do to interact better with your clients?