How Do I Continue a Stalled Conversation?

Do you ever get stuck in a conversation, not knowing what to say next? Lisa B. Marshall, aka The Public Speaker, shares lots of great tips to keep that conversation going.

Lisa B. Marshall
5-minute read
Episode #324

Business Conversation Continuer #1 - Mirroring

The first technique is to mirror back what the person just said, with different wording. Often the person will add to what you have said, or further clarify. Even if he doesn’t need to add anything, it will be clear that you were listening and understood him, which will greatly increase trust and connection. You can then continue with one of the other questions. Some examples are:

  • So the project is about…
  • So your role is ____ and your main responsibilities are ____.
  • Sounds like you’ve got three main objectives: A, B, and C.
  • Sounds like your biggest challenges are ­­­­____.
  • Sounds like you’re stuck because you’re waiting for input from the ABC team.

Business Conversation Continuer #2 – Nouning This one’s called “nouning.” Continue with an open-ended question (not yes or no answers), repeating a noun from the person’s statement and using it in your follow-up question. The question could start with “What do you think?” or “How do you think?” or “Would you be willing to share your views on that?” You might say:

  • So you’ll be doing the task X. What do you think will be the hardest part?
  • So you’ve got experience with X. What do you think your approach will be?
  • How will you approach objective X?
  • How do you think you will be able to use X and Y?

Business Conversation Continuer #3 – Verbing

“Verbing” is similar to “nouning,” except you repeat a verb from the person’s statement and use it in your question. It might sound like this:

  • So you’ll be managing. How many resources do you think you’ll need?
  • So analysis, what approach might be best for <current project>?
  • Not having enough resources is frustrating. What do you think you’re going to do?
  • Hmmm … waiting. How long do you wait? What ideas do you have to speed things up?

So there you have it, some great practical words and techniques to keep a conversation going. I'll admit it takes some practice, but this should prevent those awkward moments and improve any conversation! Shannon, good luck and let me know how it goes.  

This is Lisa B. Marshall helping you to lead and influence.  If you'd like to learn more about compelling communication, I invite you to read my bestselling books, Smart Talk and Ace Your Interview and listen to my other podcast, Smart Talk. As always, your success is my business


About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall

Lisa B. Marshall Lisa holds masters with duel degrees in interpersonal/intercultural communication and organizational communication. She’s the author of Smart Talk: The Public Speaker's Guide to Success in Every Situation, as well as Ace Your Interview, Powerful Presenter, and Expert Presenter. Her work has been featured in CBS Money Watch, Ragan.com, Woman's Day, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and many others. Her institutional clients include Johns Hopkins Medicine, Harvard University, NY Academy of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Genentech, and Roche.

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