Part of the Take Control of the Hole series to help you become a Talkaoke Host
One of the key elements to Talkaoke is that there is “no agenda” With a subtly shifting subject, there is no requirement to defend an entrenched position. Participants more easily make new and different connections. This doesn’t mean that your Talkaoke event cannot have a theme or context. It always will. Don’t limit the discussion to what you think is important, go where the participants want to go and you will discover how your ideas look to them.
This is one of our maxims. What it means is that the most obvious and direct question is rarely the most productive. Each statement made is full of assumptions that a speaker expects everyone to agree with. What’s the most interesting assumption that person has just made?
Remember the child’s game where he asks “why” to every answer. Get into the frame of mind where you know very little and are really keen to learn. Try to think of questions (not just “why”) that will open up the discussion rather than close it down. Many questions tacitly assume what the answer will be. Try to avoid these.
This is the one single most important piece of advice for Talkaoke. Talkaoke has a 360 degree architecture. Make sure you keep looking around to see how people are reacting to what the person on the mic is saying. Do they look bored, interested, annoyed, excited? Your job is to maximise engagement. The reason why people don’t naturally have conversations with more than five people in is that they don’t get enough feedback from every participant. It is your job in the middle to amplify that feedback.
Look intently at the person speaking, but look around too. I know that’s a lot of looking but it is so important to keep everybody engaged. Looking at participants on the table will keep them hooked, and reassure them that you are not ignoring them. Looking at participants around the table will encourage them to sit down and/or take part.
When you are summing up the conversation (see Getting the flow going) look at everybody. People’s faces will tell you what aspect of the conversation is stimulating them and what is leaving them cold.
One of the important reasons to keep looking around is that it tells you who is interested. Look at people when they’re listening to other people. It’s amazing how honest their expressions are! Bored people look really really bored, even if they’re too polite to say so. Take advantage of this. If someone is talking and everyone looks bored, get the mic moving again.
Got Your head around that? Move on to the next page “Getting the flow going!”