25 tips for winning conversations

Conversation can be illuminating. During the recent Fundraising Day in New York 2013, sponsored by the Greater New York chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Rich Brown of New York University shared 25 tips for enhancing conversation.

  • Talk about their kids, not yours.
  • Avoid short answers.
  • Never correct them.
  • No matter how tired you are, never let it show.
  • Observe their body language and be conscious of yours.
  • Measure your opinions, but show you know something.
  • If speaking to more than one person, look at everyone.
  • Speak at a moderate pace.
  • Ask open-ended questions, elicit dialogue.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk politics, but keep strong opinions to yourself.
  • Smile, display enthusiasm, show life!
  • Know your industry; know something about theirs.
  • Be candid; don’t spin; never gossip.
  • Talk about the organization’s finances, programs, plans.
  • Don’t talk about yourself unless asked.
  • Stay focused on the person in front of you, not the person with soap opera good looks who just walked in.
  • “That’s fascinating; tell me more” shows you are interested.
  • “I’m sorry, I don’t understand that” shows you are paying attention.
  • Jotting down an occasional note says “What you just told me is important.”
  • Be ready to discuss current events.
  • Now and then, it’s OK to show that you read Dostoyevsky.
  • Unless the other people say they saw it, don’t mention the latest Spider Man movie.
  • Bring up topics that interest the other person.
  • Eliminate “like” “Oh my God”; “awesome.”
  • Remember why you are meeting in the first place.