Thursday, 12 February 2009

The Art of Conversation

Went to a School of Life talk last night with Celia on the Art of Conversation by author Catherine Blythe who has written a book on the subject. I went because I want to learn how to charm people when I speak to them, essential for a freelancer. Throughout the talk however, I realised that this stuff is really important for creating a consumer dialogue. 

One of the things Catherine said which struck me was that when you have a really amazing conversation with someone you don't come away thinking they are clever/witty/etc but that you are. It seems like that's what brands need to do for their consumers.

Catherine also used a lot of analogies that liken good dialogue to magic - the connection between people, conjuring up like-minded topics, acquiring intuition through socialising,and that meeting new people is a portal to another world.

The art of conversation is in building risk so it's not a beige conversation. If you're stuck for what to say, a good get-out is seeking or giving advice. Compliments are always a winner too, but aim to make them proportionate, returnable. As one member of the audience said she often gets complimented on her beautiful children but if the compliment giver has trolls for children she is stumped for what to say back. 

Other key tools are to use language that embraces the other person - 'we' rather than 'you and I'. Pauses should be used for emphasis and drama and allowing the other person to use their imagination.