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Are You Giving People a Reason to Talk?

I hear from clients all the time who say, “My employees don’t talk to each other!” To which I’ll ask, “Are you giving them a reason to talk?”

A Reason to Talk

My 14 year old niece, Abby, called the other day. She’s not a phone person, so my heart skipped a beat when I saw her number pop up on caller ID. In fact she speaks up for one of two reasons: 1) to point out what you’re doing wrong or 2) to tell you about something she’s REALLY excited about.

She’s a lot like her aunt in that way.

I picked up the phone. “Hello?”

“Hello, Stacey,” said Abby, “I have bad news.”

My heart raced with thoughts of car accidents, illness, missing people.

“What’s the matter?” I asked almost out of breath.

“You may not be able to go to the concert in October.”

See, Abby is a big fan of the band Twenty One Pilots. We went to their last concert in January 2016. And after a year long hiatus the duo announced a new album and Fall 2018 tour. Abby (and the rest of their fans) is beyond excited about this announcement.

It’s all she wants to talk about…again.

“Why can’t I go to the show?” I asked. (What I really mean to say was, What did I do (or not do) now?

“Well”, she said, “you need to learn their handshake. Do you know the handshake?”

What I wanted to tell her: No, of course I don’t know the handshake. After learning all of their songs before the last concert, I thought I’d be off the hook for the next one.

Instead I said, “No. Will you teach me?”

After telling me how hard the handshake is to learn, she agreed to teach me.

The call ended and I felt better knowing that the bad news had nothing to do with someone getting hurt, sick or going missing.

The next day Abby texted me with a video of her and a friend doing the handshake. The text message read: “Start practicing!”

Wow, Twenty One Pilots gave her something to talk about.

What This Means in Business

This interaction got me thinking about the leaders who tell me their employees don’t talk to each other.

Are they giving people – clients, employees, the community – a reason to talk?

And not in a negative way. In a way that gets them excited enough to share what they know, just like my niece is willing to do with me?

Yes, business moves quickly. Too many obligations and not enough time to talk.

Yet, whether looking for new business, trying to improve team collaboration, or having a desire to become a sought after coach or consultant, to cut through the noise and get people to pay attention, we must give them a reason to talk.

Some ways folks have done this…

  • Fun summer outings
  • Sending a video message by email to convey an important message
  • Ditching the slide deck and telling stories during presentations
  • Secret company handshakes

It doesn’t have to be complicated to be effective

Before your next meeting or conversation, think about what you want people to think, feel, do or say as a result of the interaction. Knowing the outcomes will make all the difference in how you communicate your message. Give them something special, like a secret handshake, to get people excited enough to pick up the phone and talk.

Your voice matters. Keep shining.

Like what you read? Get Communicate Naturally, a free twice monthly newsletter to power up your presence and communication skills delivered straight to your inbox. Click here to subscribe.

Need to give people a reason to talk? Check out the Lead & Thrive 3 month mastermind for women in business starting in October. You’ll learn how to lead yourself, lead others and lead your business.

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About the blog

Humor, stories, and insights, delivered 2x per month, to perform without the pressure.

Topics include mental health, work, human connection, creativity and more.


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