Ten Questions to Help You Start a Conversation

“In conversation, humor is worth more than wit and easiness more than knowledge” -George Herbert

How to Start a Conversation

Have you ever been introduced to someone but did not know how to start the conversation? Ever experience that awkward moment of silence not knowing what to say or worse, waiting for the other person to say something interesting?

No worries. Most of us have felt this way, especially at conferences and large conventions. Here are a couple of tips I’ve picked up over the years that you may find helpful.

First, keep in mind that a conversation is like a journey with the speakers going from one place to another. As with every journey, you must first learn how to take the first step and also figure out which direction you’ll be traveling.

An approach that’s worked well for me is similar to an approach I use when picking a jury during trial. Remember, I’m talking to 12 people I’ve never met before, and it’s my job to get everyone to talk about themselves so that I can learn more who my ultimate decision makers are. I need to know what they’re thinking and what makes them tick. To do anything less would be a disservice to my client.

I use the open-ended questions below to get the dance going. By the way, don’t try and use all these questions with the same person and at the same time. Instead, think of these questions as though they are ten arrows in your relationship quiver.

Learn these questions, and you can easily reach back in your mind and pull out the one question that’s perfect for your next ice-breaking opportunity. Remember, different questions apply to different situations so be careful with how and when you use them.

Hint- to develop rapport with the other person, it takes a bit more than just asking these questions. For example, after you ask your question, pay attention and be genuinely interested in the other person’s answer. Listen 70% of the time, make eye contact and smile.

Also make sure to use these questions in a natural and conversational fashion. Let the discussion flow and follow up the other person’s answers with new related questions. Nobody likes to be interrogated so let your human side shine through during the conversation.

So let’s get started. You’ve just be introduced to someone or, you’ve just walked into a room and are approached by a complete stranger.

1. What do you do for a living? How did you get started?

People enjoy talking about themselves so give them a chance to do just that. Let them share their story with you. Listen and learn more about the other person.

2. What do you enjoy most about your business or profession?

I like always to be specific when I ask this question. If the person I’m talking to is an author, I’ll ask something like, “What do you enjoy most about being an author?” or maybe, “What did you enjoy most about writing your new book, “Overnight Success?” as opposed to, “What do you like about your occupation?” See the difference?

Again, it’s a question that elicits a good, positive feeling. It will also get the conversation moving forward.

3. What separates you and your company from the competition?

This is a permission-to-brag question, and the answer will help you learn what the other person believes is special about her business. Again, be as specific as you can with “company” and “competition”. Sometimes this question may include not a company but an activity or charitable cause. Either way, this approach works very well.

4. What advice would you give someone just starting in the ABC business?

This is a mentor type of question. We all like to be perceived as experts in our field so let the other person shine a bit and possibly share some pearls of wisdom with you. [tip- when he or she answers this question, ask a follow-up open-ended question. For example, “That’s interesting, why is that so important?”]

5. What one thing would you do with your business (or life, interest) if you knew you could not fail?

This is a great way to find out what the other person’s true interest is. What are her dreams and goals?

6. What significant changes have you seen take place in your business or profession throughout the years?

This is a great question for someone a few years older than you. They’ve put in their time and usually enjoy sharing their opinions and stories.

7. What do you see as the coming trends in your business or profession?

This question asks the other person to speculate on the future. Think about this. Isn’t this a question that’s normally reserved for important guests on television shows like CNN? If the person happens to be an expert, you just might learn something from the answer. In any case, you’ll probably make them feel good about themselves just by asking the question.

8. Describe the strangest or funniest incident you’ve experienced in your business or profession?

People love sharing war stories so here’s their chance. Most people don’t get the chance to share these stories, and now you’ve volunteered to be their audience.

9. What ways have you found to be the most effective way to help others or to promote your business or profession (or issue you’re discussing)?

You’ll not only get good ideas to help you move forward with a project or business need, but you’ll also find out how this person thinks.

10. What one sentence would you like people to use in describing the way you do business or practice your profession?

You’ve just asked a question that most people are never asked. The other person’s answer will reveal quite a bit. They’ll also appreciate the fact that you care.

Conclusion

Use one or two of these ten questions to get your next conversation going in the right direction. Care about who you’re talking with and what they’re saying.

Be sincere and genuine. Make eye contact and stop looking down at your smartphone.

Finally and most importantly, enjoy the new relationship you just started!

#ActionJackson Tip of the Day!

 

Each day I share 30 years of legal, business, and entrepreneurial tips with you in what I call my #ActionJackson Tip of the Day!

Most tips are presented in short 30-60 second video clips on Twitter @MitchJackson (click here). Every now and then I’ll share the video clips on social media and my websites.

Today I shared the following tips about your legal rights when it comes to searches of your smartphone by police and Border Protection Agents. Hope you find this information useful. If so, please share with your family and friends. Also follow me on social at Mitch.Social

Related Post (excellent article)

Can Border Agents Search Your Electronic Devices? It’s Complicated.

Who Do You Enjoy Spending Time With?

saddle-and-surrey

“Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game.” -Michael Jordan

When I was growing up on my parent’s guest ranch in Tucson, we would have many guests come back year after year. One very special person I remember and think about often was “Uncle Louie.”

Although we were not related, Uncle Louie felt like family and was one of my favorite guests to hang out with. He was always laughing, doing magic tricks, and having fun. Everyone enjoyed his company, wanted to be around him, and treated him like family.

Later in life, I learned that in addition to being fun guy, Uncle Louie also happened to be a successful businessman in an industry normally comprised of serious people doing serious things. What made Uncle Louie special is that he didn’t allow his occupation to define his personality and who he was.

We need more Uncle Louies in life.

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” -Plato

Commercial Email and the CAN-SPAM Act- What every business owner needs to know!

Email Marketing and The CAN-SPAM Act

Many of my friends have extensive email lists they use for marketing their products, services and companies. Because violations of the CAN-SPAM Act are up to $16,000 per email, I thought it would be a good idea to share these FTC laws and requirements with them and, anyone else in business using commercial email.

The Law

The CAN-SPAM Act sets the rules for commercial email. It covers all commercial messages defined as “any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service.”

According to the FTC, the main requirements you need to be aware of are:

1. Don’t use false or misleading header information. Your “From,” “To,” “ReplyTo,” and routing information – including the originating domain name and email address – must be accurate and identify the person or business who initiated the message.

2. Don’t use deceptive subject lines. The subject line must accurately reflect the content of the message.

3. Identify the message as an ad. The law gives you a lot of leeway in how to do this, but you must disclose clearly and conspicuously that your message is an advertisement.

Continue reading “Commercial Email and the CAN-SPAM Act- What every business owner needs to know!”

7 Ways to Start Your Next Facebook Live

How to Start Your Facebook Live Stream

Your Facebook Live audience has many options. If you fail to capture their immediate attention, they’ll click and go someplace else.

The next time you go live on Facebook, rather than pressing the “Go Live” button and stumbling through the initial sixty seconds with an awkward hello or self-introduction, try one of these seven approaches. If you do this correctly, you’ll intrigue your viewers, capture their attention, and get them invested in knowing what you’re going to say next.

Let’s say I’m jumping on Facebook Live to talk about the power of communication. I might start off with:

1.  A question

“Do you know what the biggest communication challenge is in today’s noisy world? It’s probably not what you think! In today’s Facebook live, I’m going to tell you what this huge challenge is. I’ll also be sharing three ways to overcome this problem and show you how to get your message heard each and every time.”

Next, roll into a short introduction and then move right into the livestream. Don’t waste everyone’s time during the first 5-10 minutes babbling on about nothing.

Six other approaches are:

2. Discuss a Current News Item

“Becoming an effective communicator got me on CNN last night to discuss the Presidential election. During the show, you all saw what happened. I think it just might change the outcome of the election. Would you like to know the communication steps I did to get the invite on to CNN in the first place?”

3. Share a Quote:

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw

4. Give a Statistic:

“The next time you deliver a speech, keep in mind that 90% of what you’re about to say will be forgotten within 60 minutes of your last spoken word. Want to learn how to help your audience remember almost everything you said?”

5. Have Your Audience Write Something Down

“There are five steps that exceptional communicators use to share their message. Grab a pen and paper because you’ll want to write them down.”

6. Make a Prediction

“By the time we finish this presentation, I predict that you will increase your ability to persuade others by 25 to 50%.

7. Tell a Relevant Story

“I watched opposing counsel give his closing argument. He stumbled through the whole thing. It was a mess. Using 4 of the tips that I’ll be sharing with you today, I stood up, walked over to the jury, and gave a closing argument that resulted in a multi-million dollar verdict. Want to know what those four steps are?”

Conclusion

I believe that creating a bit of intrigue and immediately capturing the attention of your audience is the best way to start off an effective Facebook Live. Follow this up with compelling content while engaging your audience. Do this and there’s no limit to how successful your next Facebook Live will be.

The Streaming Lawyer Goes Back To School (and it was a blast!)

Patricia Ragan Stokes

I just had an amazing experience joining two of Patricia Ragan Stokes‘ classes just outside Syracuse, New York. What’s especially cool is that I was able to do so via Skype from my office in Orange County, California. I wish more teachers would use this approach to share real-world experiences with their students. [Shout out #SkypeaThon #MIEExpert #EDTech]

By embracing digital, I believe Patricia is bringing leading-edge content to her students and creating a unique learning environment. I had a blast engaging with both classes, and we chatted about business, contracts, law, Snapchat and Instagram. I also had fun thinking about and then answering the question about what it’s like to be a trial lawyer.

Here are a few video clips Patricia was kind enough to share on Twitter!

mitch jackson

mitch jackson

Mitch Jackson aka The Streaming Lawyer