The basics of striking up a conversation do not require you to be charming at all points across time. What is necessary though, is the fact that you actually should have something important to talk about or at least you know how to make anything you discuss sound important and constructive. Winning an audience among equals and subordinates is one thing but winning the ear of a bigwig takes skill.
Good conversation skills is the first step of achieving success in any career. You must know what to speak and when to come up with the right topic of conversation. There are instances when even the most significant topic loses its importance. You must learn to close your trap in such instances.
Many people fail in their careers because they treat everyone on the same level and speak the same gibberish with everyone. Here are a few tips to keep in mind while making small talk with the bigwigs if you wish to prosper in your career:
Guide for Making Small Talk with Anyone:
1. Know what to discuss:
You must know exactly what you are speaking. The people in higher positions in the business world cannot afford to waste their time on senseless talk. So you must know well whether the subject you are speaking about is significant to them and the firm or not.
There are a few subjects that you simply should not broach in front of a bigwig, such as personal anecdotes that hold no importance in the corporate world. Strictly avoid personal questions about them or trivial information that does not actually have any constructive underlying message. The bigwigs play an important role in the organization and you must respect their role by respecting their time.
2. Get your facts right:
The easiest way to lose your impression is by speaking without knowing the facts. Lack of preparation can not just ruin your impression but may also make you look like a fool among the bigwigs. So, you need to have your facts right and in place.
Ensure you know what you are speaking about. Speaking for the sake of speaking is not recommended at any cost, so make sure you have your facts proper. It would be embarrassing to have a bigwig poke holes in your theories in front of everyone. Thorough research on the subject is thus best before a meeting with the bigwigs.
3. Confidence is key:
You need to think twice before opening your mouth in front of the elite boss. You must remember that there are a good number of others who do not have the confidence to speak in front of them at all. So believe in yourself, the step up alone should get the bigwigs to take notice of your self-esteem.
Confidence is important in every stage of your career. Confidence should be clearly relevant in your speech, look and even posture. If you have drooping shoulders or a stooping posture, your lack of confidence will be evident. So, along with speech, you should also work on your posture and body language.
4. Know when to speak:
The timing of your speech matters greatly. If you time it wrong, even the most important conversation may turn dull and trivial. You should understand when it is advisable to speak on a certain topic.
Do not interject in the midst of an important conversation. Someone who intervenes is always looked down upon. You should have the patience to let the speaker complete his topic before you can start with yours. Respect the speaker. Speak when they are done saying their bit.
5. Criticize less and construct more:
Constructive criticism is definitely good but you must have the sense to phrase your criticism in a polite manner. If it gives an impression that you are complaining or insulting someone, it may simply ruin your impression. Placing your opinions in professional circles require a great deal of tact. The way you speak and present the matter can make a great difference in how people look at it.
Sure, there could be a looming topic that you must break the ice on but it has got negative undertones. Do not start with a barrage of complaints and whine throughout your speech. Weigh the pros and cons, and be as realistic as you can so that your judgment appears as impersonal and impartial.
6. Respect their space:
Since we are not accustomed to dealing with bigwigs often, we fail to understand the fact that they also require their space. We often get so excited at the opportunity of interacting with someone at a higher position that we forget they may also need their space and we must respect this fact.
Sure you have something important to discuss, or more importantly, want to get noticed, but hounding a bigwig to have an audience with them is not only a bit disconcerting it is a strict no-no. They have a need for personal space too, so it is best to ask whether they are free to talk before starting your speech. If you notice they are busy with their dinner or snacks, get back when they are done with it.
Many people tend to get nervous when they have to directly interact with the bigwigs. If you are one of them, you need to get over your nervousness first. Anxiety and nervousness have many adverse effects.
If the stakes for this conversation are that high, there is no shame in rehearsing what you want to say. Do it once, do it twice, do it as many times you need to be sure about what you want to say. This way, when you open your mouth, the words should flow out of you naturally, and portray your grasp on the subject matter.
You may rehearse in front of the mirror or rehearse in front of some small kid. This way, you will gain more confidence.
8. Don’t be nervous:
Nervousness reveals itself in very odd ways. When you are nervous, you may stammer, itch your head, move a lot and have many more annoying gestures. Very often, nervousness is the result of giving your bosses a Godly position or status. You need to remind yourself of your own importance and it will help you get rid of your nervousness.
9. Study the situation:
Saying your piece at any given time is also a strict non-recommendation. You must time your words correctly after understanding the situation. There is a time and place for everything, so popping up a different topic of discussion is not advisable. If there is a crisis situation on then do not speak about any other topic at that point.
Speak to bigwigs regarding your concern when their mind is free from other thoughts and they can afford to pay their whole attention to you. If you speak the wrong thing at the wrong time, it is sure to create a negative impression about you.
10. Choose your words:
Frame your sentences carefully. Articulate the key points as adroitly as you can. This is not simply about getting heard but also about proving your oratory worth. You should have a good power of speech and the ability to subjugate words with better terms. This way the bigwigs will get to witness a productive conversation and one that they will remember.
While speaking, make sure you have the pauses at the right places so that people understand the significance of each sentence spoken. You must maintain a steady yet impactful tone. Pauses longer than usual can make the speech boring and divert the listener’s attention. Maintain a proper and erect posture. Ensure you have a good body language that creates a positive impression.
11. Be Grammatically Correct:
People in the lower levels do not take grammar too seriously. When you are speaking to bigwigs, the rule is different. They possess great knowledge and you need to make sure you speak effectively with them.
Here again, preparing for the conversation beforehand can help. Speak less but make sure you speak sense. If you think you are not well versed with grammar, take a crash course to improve the spoken language. Very few people get the opportunity to directly interact with the bigwigs. So make the best of this opportunity without creating any negative impression.
Other Factors that Matter:
While making a conversation with a bigwig, there are some other aspects that may also matter to an extent. Here we have listed some of these matters:
Even if you have all the knowledge in the world, it won’t cover up for your lack of hygiene. The basic expectation from an employee is that he maintains a level of hygiene.
Never make your boss wait. If you are headed for a conversation with the boss, reach his cabin on time. Any delay would be regarded as the disrespect of your boss or seniors.
Be well dressed to suit the formal occasion. Make sure your shoes are perfectly polished and your shirt is well pressed.