Entrepreneurs need to appear absolutely confident when talking to new people. After all, how else will you persuade your new banker to finance your firm’s growth, or how will you strike deals with other CEOs at industry events? If you find yourself tongue-tied at parties, or timid during confrontations, or if you’re known as a wallflower, then try the tips outlined in Talk to Me by Carole Honeychurch and Angela Watrous. They include:
- Be aware of how you’re feeling. When you’re gearing up to make a new connection, take a moment to determine how you’re feeling. Is your body tense? If so, take a deep breath. Are you telling yourself how awkward the conversation might be? If so, replace that thought with a more positive one.
- Keep body language in mind. Make sure your body is open (for example, don’t cross your arms), your facial expressions reflect your responses and that you make eye contact.
- Don’t be stuck for something to say. Sound easier said than done? Bring up similarities or differences (“You guys export? We haven’t tried that yet”), talk about current events, offer a compliment (“You have zero turnover? That’s incredible!”) and use humour. These strategies all work wonders in opening up a conversation.
- Recognize the important of good storytelling. Interesting things happen to people who run companies, and recounting those stories can make great small talk. But storytelling must be done right.
- Remember to start at the beginning. How did you get into the situation? What did you expect would happen?
- Never neglect to include your feelings. Infusing a story with emotion makes a story come alive.
- Don’t get sidetracked with unnecessary details.
- Build suspense. It gives listeners a reason to stay interested.
- Provide an ending. Stories need a resolution, so don’t jump ship after you get all the juicy details out.