This is the season of holiday parties, networking events and volunteer night mixers.
We all know that being a great listener and maintaining eye contact with the person talking to you are essential ingredients to a successful communication style. Active listening and eye contact signal authenticity and genuine interest.
What happens next when the conversation flows over to you? Are you prepared to be an engaging speaker when you are the focus of the conversation?
Not that we are suggesting you rehearse what you are going to say but it is always a good idea to consider what the pros, like Marie Forleo or Tony Robbins, do when they effortlessly communicate their message. They have their own distinct communication style. They know how to engage the brain of the listeners through the use sensory and descriptive words. They keep the audience waiting for more.
As a speaker, your responsibility is to engage with the people that are listening to you. Whether you are presenting to a group or standing in a living room holding a napkin of delicious appetizers at a dinner party.
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We each know what the strengths and weaknesses of our personal communication style. There is always room for improvement. Not all great conversationalists were born that way. Sometimes you just need to move away from habits that keep holding the conversation back. It is possible to improve your communication style once you are aware of the areas that need improvement.
No need to do the research into what makes for effective brain communication before your next event because we have captured the highlights for you.
Top 10 Tips to Optimize Brain Engagement
- Use precise and concrete words, don’t try to shock and awe the listener with your vocabulary
- Avoid using industry speak, jargon or acronyms (you don’t want the listener’s brain tuning out!)
- Use short and simple sentences, they are more engaging than run on sentences
- Avoid using non-words such as “ummm” and “aaah”
- Use pauses to emphasize your point and build a little anticipation
- Avoid repeating the same stories, anecdotes or musings as new people join the conversation
- Use the same words and phrases that your listener was using, increases conversational familiarity
- Avoid overuse of “I” and “me”, this is a conversation so hold their interest by keeping the focus on them. Mention them by name and use words such as “you”
- Use positive words and expressions, negative words (like not, don’t or isn’t) turn the listener off
- Avoid social scripts (like talking about the weather or the food at the party) and indulge your curiosity about the person in front of you.
Everyone has a story to tell so focus on learning about the people around you.
There are endless opportunities to get out and meet people during the holidays. Don’t approach each event as a business development opportunity. Instead go into a room feeling genuinely interested in speaking with new and interesting people. A positive mind set makes a big difference to how your own brain is responding to the event.
[Tweet “everyone has a story to tell – focus on learning about them”]
If you feel unprepared or go in with a business agenda then your brain is flooded with stress hormones and you will never hit your conversational groove. If you are prepared and feeling some anticipation for the fun ahead you will have a much better time.
Casual social settings provide the ideal environment to expand both your personal and professional network. Go in to each event aiming to meet and engage in conversations with a variety of people – no business pressure just for personal enjoyment. You will end up a much better networker once you stop trying to force your communication style.
My Mother-in-law had a great rule of thumb to aim for if you want to be a great conversationalist:
Aim for a balance between listening time and speaking time
Each conversation throughout the night is its own balancing act. No one person in a conversation should be monopolizing the discussion. Speakers and listeners have a responsibility to each other.
Give these tips some thought and go in prepared for your next holiday event by engaging the brain.
Jennifer Arnold, Founder at InnovaMap, Ph.D. in Neuroscience
InnovaMap – we use the science of marketing to connect you with your target audience.
Contact us to learn more on how to start integrating techniques for engaging the brain into all your marketing strategies.