Suddenly, you have access to someone you admire or is an expert in a topic you are curious about. Guide the conversation with an organized approach! Make the most out of the few minutes you have with that person. Do you know what to say to a speaker?
After any impactful speech, you may have a long list of questions for the speaker. Be cognizant of time and the line forming behind you. Narrow it down to one short question, that the speaker can answer in just a few sentences.
Avoid asking something complex like, “How did you start your career?” or “How did you reach this level of success?” Ask for a resource or two for you to learn more about a specific topic or accomplishment and how you can use that information.
Asking people questions empowers them to be a source of information and makes them feel good.
Compliments are nice, but they often don’t say much. Rather than just shaking the speaker’s hand and saying, “I enjoyed that!”, provide the speaker with praise and a reason why. “I really enjoyed your talk on (this topic), because it taught me more about (fill in the blank).”
Don’t think of giving the speaker your card! If you do give your card to a presenter, there is no incentive for her/him to contact you. It most likely will get discarded. The speaker usually has a lot to pack up and your card might not make it back home.
Instead, ask for the best way way to contact that person. Reach out later that afternoon, or the next day, with an informative, yet short, follow-up email. Include a reference to your conversation, a brief line of a praise, and a value-added resource (for example: recommending an article, a podcast episode, or a book).
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