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Effective Conversations

Effective conversations are more than just exchanging information with clarity and purpose. They are also about having a conversation that is engaging, builds trust and offers value.

For conversations to be effective they must:

Deliver a clear message One of the easiest ways to achieve this is to use simple and direct language that your audience can understand and relate to. Avoid unnecessary jargon, acronyms, or technical terms that may confuse or alienate them, unless you define them clearly. Use short and active sentences that express one idea at a time. Avoid vague or ambiguous words that may have different meanings or interpretations. Choose precise and concrete words that convey your message with clarity and impact.

Concise statements have a greater impact on listeners. The more details you include, the more challenging it can be for listeners to follow and recall, especially if the subject matter is new to them.

Keep your audience in mind You must recognise that conversations are not just about you, or what you want. It’s about what’s in it for the customer – what really matters to them. Your messaging will therefore most likely vary and be specific for different audiences – one size does not fit all.

Consider the example of discussing a feed additive with a broiler integrator. You need to address the unique needs and goals of the various decision makers and influencers, and highlight the relevant product benefits:

  • Nutritionist - focus on reducing FCR,

  • Feed mill manager – concentrate on low dust and odour,

  • Veterinarian/farm manager – discuss gut health benefits, reduced incidence of dysbiosis, and wet litter, resulting in improved production,

  • Purchasing manager – stress value for money,

  • Quality assurance – present product quality,

  • Slaughterhouse – consider improved uniformity, reduced downgrades/condemnations,

  • Senior management – emphasise improvement in overall cost effectiveness, operational efficiency, and sustainability.

Confirm understanding It happens all the time - we think we’re being understood, but we’re not. A good way to avoid miscommunication is to confirm your understanding to listen carefully to your customer. Next confirm your understanding by paraphrasing key points, that is repeating in your own words, something someone else has said, without changing the meaning. Finally, encourage feedback by asking your customer if you got it right. Understanding leads to success.

Conforming your understanding also shows respect and interest for your customer, and encourages them to elaborate or explain their reasoning more clearly.

Ask open-ended questions (that cannot be answered with a simple yes or no but require more explanation or elaboration) to prevent misunderstanding. For example:

  • Could you explain what you mean by …?

  • How does this relate to your problem/issue?

  • Can you give me an example please?

Involve others Remember, it’s not all about you. People understand better if they feel involved. Effective conversations go beyond simply transmitting information – it involves connecting with others and understanding their needs. This may include asking questions to prompt others to contribute.

Summarise the discussion At the end of a conversation review the main points discussed, and any agreements made to ensure mutual understanding.

This Management Matters only considers effective conversations in the workplace, such as small face-to-face and on-line meetings. Presentation skills for larger groups will be consider in a later Management Matters.

Want to improve your, or your team’s conversation skills? Effective conversations lead to understanding and success. Like any other skill, effective conversations can be improved with practice and training. Reach out to Progressus for an inside to the 7Cs Selling Process and Workshops which we have specifically design for Animal Nutrition and Animal Health customer-facing professionals. Please contact us at, or +66 (0) 613 935 776 for a one-on-one conversation.

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