People who are charismatic, personable, and are able to effortlessly draw people to them usually have one thing in common: They understand what it takes to be engaging, and they have it set to automatic. When we think of these people, we typically think of celebrities, politicians, and others in the public eye. These folks are successful at cultivating their persona through their appearance, speech, and engagement skills. You just know when you run into these folks. They make a strong impact and they’re unforgettable.
Learn how to properly ask questions.
Sounds simple enough, but first I want to list a few reasons why proper use of questions are important for engagement:
- It demonstrates genuine interest in who you’re speaking with.
- It puts you in a better position to understand.
- It facilitates conversation, which encourages discussion.
- It promotes the exchange of new ideas.
- It aids in diagnosing a problem.
- It allows you to control the direction of the conversation.
- It positions you as a brilliant conversationalist.
The list does go on, but the above should be enough to encourage you to incorporate questions into even your most everyday interactions. So then, how best to use questions to maximize engagement?
Be genuine. Don’t ask questions just for the sake of asking a question. Authenticity in your questions stems from a genuine interest in the person you’re speaking with. Just remember that no person is 100% uninteresting. There should be at least 1 thing about each person you interact with that is worthy of further questioning. If finding something interesting with someone you’re talking to is a chronic issue, you might want to check out an earlier post about curiosity and the value of nurturing a curious mindset.
The goal within the goal here is to be observant and receptive to your audience.
Keep questions open-ended. Make it easy for people to open up and talk about themselves. Remember, everyone has an opinion and most are only too happy to share. Initially, it’s a good idea to focus on questons that solicit opinions instead of facts. Questions eliciting facts tend to be more limiting due to the right/wrong component that’s built in to it (and also comes across as interrogatory). Questions on opinions keeps the responses subjective and will tend to shed more light about the person you’re talking to. Some great questions to use typically begin with:
- What do you think of…?
- What are your thoughts on…?
- How do you feel about…?
- How do you see yourself…?
- What’s your opinion on…?
The goal within the goal here is to seek to understand.
Listen actively. Maintain your focus on their response to your question. If done correctly, this should uncover further questions, which will only render the conversation more effortless. Unfortunately, most people tend to worry about what they’re going to say next that they miss a lot of what is being said. Closed-ended questions are great to use here to confirm understanding or to help clarify a point.
The goal within the goal here is to identify areas where you can be most valuable to your audience.
Technology, in and of itself, doesn’t make you more personable, interesting, or likeable. Being genuinely interested in people, even if you don’t always see eye-to-eye, does. Facebook, Twitter, etc, only amplifies your personality (or lack thereof) to other people.
I’d love to hear some of your favorite techniques to build audience engagement. Please share in the comments below!
Also read: How Are You Engaging Your Customers?