7 tips to control the conversation at work

Recently I ran a media training class in Perth for an awesome Not-For-Profit client who is doing incredible work in the world. I’m not going to name her or the organisation, but I will say she had a communication issue that is, unfortunately, really common amongst business leaders in Perth. I’ll call it the ‘my town is bigger than your town syndrome’.

You might already be familiar with the syndrome. It’s the one that makes you feel like you’re calling from a country town when you talk to your colleagues in Sydney or Melbourne. It doesn’t happen in all workplaces and isn’t as common as it used to be. But if you’ve ever worked for a national body from Perth, you’ve probably come across this syndrome at some point in your life.

In this particular case, maybe it was because she’s female or maybe it was because she’s on other side of the Nullarbor. Either way, she knew that every time she communicated with certain colleagues, they would roll over her message and either ignore it, or claim it as their own (who hasn’t had that happen to them at work! Grrr!)

Here’s some media training tips to make sure you’re heard when you don’t feel like you’re the loudest person in the room:

  • Prepare your ‘story’ – the thing you can talk about from your personal experience that nobody can steal. Your story illustrates the problem or solution you’re proposing , but also allows you floor space to make an impact. Your story must be about your personal involvement. I can almost guarantee the part they’ll remember the most once the conversation is over, is your story.
  • Prepare your statistics – make them visually interesting. Allow them to picture what you’re talking about.
  • Consider props, pictures, video and rhetorical questions to engage an audience.
  • Think about your unique perspective. What can you see from your standpoint  that others can’t?
  • If you’re introducing yourself, understand your title is not who you are. Sure give them your title if it’ll help, but it’s more relevant to tell them what you do and why they should care.
  • Not all audience members are equal. Think about that. Who is it on this call, or in this presentation that you’re really trying to target?
  • Most importantly, remember you’ll get much further if you stop making this Us v You. Consider that we’re all on the same side. Use language that is inclusive. They’ll look pretty awful if you’re rallying the team and they’re still saying ‘I’ and ‘me’.

Controlling the conversation takes practice, and communication training.

Written by

She’s the secret weapon behind a number of highly acclaimed television broadcasts, a producer with more than 20 years’ experience.

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