Now more than ever, conversation is incredibly powerful. Current events have lead to certain conversations some of us never expected, and some we would rather avoid.
Conversations make the world go round, it is one of the greatest gifts of humanity. Through the art of conversation, ideas are exchanged – a meeting of minds so to speak. The most consummate speakers can inspire their audience – initiating thoughts, ideas and innovation. Yes, even monologues are essentially conversational.
Unfortunately, although speaking is a simple everyday action, few master it. Which is why we can count with our fingers, the number of successful orators and motivational coaches. While history is bound to forget the amazing stories behind billions of wallflowers, the lamest tales of charismatic speakers are recorded forever. When it comes down to conversations, the art lies in the delivery as much if not more than the content.
One question remains, is conversation a teachable subject? The short answer is yes. So, don’t fret over your star sign or about being raised from a family of introverts (not that introversion really matters). Nobody is predestined to suffer the consequences of being a poor conversationalist but it is entirely your fault if you chose to remain awkward.
Here are some tips on having different types of conversations, and how to make them more meaningful.
Mirroring the Environment
A charismatic English priest, William Temple, once said, “the first ingredient in good conversation is truth, the next good sense, the third good humor, and the fourth wit.”
However, if having quality conversation were as simple as following the directions of a chocolate cake recipe, the world would be a very different place to live in. But Temple did make some good points. Humor and wit really enhance the way we converse. The crucial thing he omitted, however, was that situations and audiences vary immensely. To really establish a connection with your audience, you’ll need to have a lay of the land.
This could be as simple as researching on workplace culture before engaging in juicy water cooler conversations. You’ll need to gather the intel on sensitive topics, the outright taboo subjects and of course, trending interests. Use jargon only with the appropriate crowd (for example, no one outside of the media industry would refer to gaffer tape, when they really mean duct tape. No one.)
And yes, once you have established the conversational touchstones, go ahead and add the “Temple ingredients” for good measure.
What you’d want is total audience comprehension of what you’re saying every single time. You get one chance to impress your crowd, do it right the first time.
The Art of Conversation in Film
Conversation is a multi-tiered process for the filmmaker. First off, there is the conversation during pre-production. The filmmaker shares thoughts with his freshly appointed cinematographer, producer, etc, to ensure that fancy ideas and concepts are achievable on screen.
During filming, effective conversation is integral toward the success of a production. The filmmaker ensures that leading actors play nice with their supporting cast and vice versa. Cameramen need to discuss with the director in capturing the best angles and lighting. Tensions can run high on set and strategic conversations will negate the chaos.
Post-production brings about a whole new set of conversations. Questions abound: Are there redundant scenes? Where are the areas for improvement? Should we plant some Easter eggs or extract some content for the Director’s cut? The conversation continues.
Once the film hits theaters, the director is still essentially having a conversation – this time with the audience. And indirectly, his audience responds via critiques and reviews – for better or for the worst.
Hence, conversations are vital for the filmmaker!
Scoring Better Conversations
Many people love speaking but are poor listeners. The truth is, a great conversationalist is both. Are you a great listener? One way to check for this is by assessing whether you’re genuinely interested in what others say or you’re always waiting for your moment to butt in.
Also, tonality and body language tell most of your story. A famous psychological study attributed only 7% of importance to the words of a salesperson. The selling point is ultimately…you guessed it, body language and tonality. This is probably the reason why we are drawn to charismatic individuals who can make any topic interesting.
Finally, anxiety is a conversation slayer that causes slurring, a blank mind, and a bunch of other embarrassing tics. The best conversationalists are comfortable in their own skin. To remedy this, always remind yourself that you’re being truthful. You should be able to connect with any audience as if you’re talking to your loved ones.
The bottom-line is: be sincere, clear and expressive in your conversations and you’ll soon be winning more hearts than a matinée idol!