The Art of Conversation – Language Matters

The lights go down, the music stops and voices fall silent. Three of us are waiting patiently behind the curtain for our time in the spot-light. Ok, so it’s not a night at the Oscars, but with a screening room that was full to capacity, and an audience that were eager to learn, I certainly felt geared up to go.

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The Art of Conversation is a series of events hosted by Lab aimed at tackling the complications of communications between brands and consumers in today’s online world. The event I participated in – Language Matters – looked at how language plays an important role in engaging, influencing, and keeping customers. Myself, Daryll Scott (NLP practitioner and performance coach), and Tom Head (Director at Lab) were there to explore 3 fascinating concepts in the art of conversation – relevance, responsiveness and reality.

Daryll was first to take to the stage. In his pseudo role as ‘Dr Hedfunk’ he began his live experiment on the audience. Daryll began a conversation with a brave volunteer, and went through a series of exercises to highlight the importance and the elements of a relevant conversation. Tom then took over and began to apply the same concept to the digital landscape. He explained how you have to think about your customers and how they split into different groups. You must seek to understand what is going on in their world and deliver the right message at the right time on the right channel.

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Then it was my turn. The concept of ‘relevance’ is particularly interesting when looked at from a language perspective. You need to make sure that your content actually means something to your audience, and that things such as humour and strap-lines can effectively cross borders and cultures. The below example of a nonsensical translation highlights the fact that conversations must be relevant – because if your message doesn’t make sense – the conversation is irrelevant from the start.

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The next section of the event focused on the concept of ‘responsiveness’ in the art of conversation. Daryll described his experience in the world of NLP, and how responding to his live test subject’s body language puts him in the driving seat. Tom looked at the importance of companies responding to their audience online, and how to use events (both planned and unplanned) to harness this further.

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In terms of language – you need to make sure the message you trying to convey actually receives the response you intend it to. Could your audience misinterpret your message, or are you even sending the wrong message? Read our previous blog-post on big brands that have got it seriously wrong…

The final topic for discussion was the importance of making a conversation real and authentic. Daryll used a third unsuspecting audience member to demonstrate that people are unable to connect with each other if the conversation has no authenticity. Tom followed this concept through by looking at tone of voice online and how brands must always stick to their core values and be consistent with their communication.

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Language has to be authentic too. Your audience has to believe that your message has been created specifically for them. Transcreation is the best way to handle this, as the audience will feel connected, engaged and included.

Daryll wrapped up the event with a few final experiments. Prior to the event he ran a series of exercises to test the conscious and emotional connection that people had with the audience members’ websites. The results were fascinating, and stirred up a few heated debates!

We continued our conversations through to the bar and relaxed over a few casual drinks. Everyone seemed keen to grasp a better understanding of what it really is that makes a conversation (both offline and online) truly fascinating, enjoyable and engaging.

The Art of Conversation events will continue throughout the year, so be sure to keep an eye on the website for further information.



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