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How to speak when we have nothing to say?

This question may seem surprising. Especially since we tend to advise others to keep quiet when they have nothing to say. Talking is always something extremely engaging and reserving ones remarks for important matters often gives them value. However, there are cases where, without having to make concrete contributions to the conversation, one needs to make their presence known. While related to public speaking, this exercise is still distinctive. It is based on journalistic techniques and consists of presenting oneself as a facilitator of the debate by making others talk. There are three techniques:


Perhaps the most obvious of the three approaches, is simply to ask questions and thus indirectly encourage a better distribution of remarks among people speaking. Gaining real legitimacy in this exercise requires nevertheless a good knowledge of the subject in order to ask relevant questions that catch your interlocutor’s attention.


Sometimes the answer to a question may seem incomplete or unsatisfactory. Reformulation, after asking a question, is to repeat a part of the answer: “So, to solve this problem, you think it is necessary…” This technique will steer your interlocutor to specify his thinking and, little by little, supplement or clarify his position.


If, after several reformulations, an interlocutor is standing his ground, you can try to interpret his remarks. The approach is to offer a personal interpretation of the response made to you while magnifying it. The remarks of your interlocutor are thus exaggerated forcing him to respond in turn, explain himself and become more involved in the exchange. Be careful, the tone could rise quickly. This attitude, though deliberately provocative, could nevertheless remain perfectly considerate.

Along with these three techniques, it is also interesting to practice sustained active listening. Thus, you will be fully attentive to the emotions felt by your audience. By asking them about their feelings, you’ll diffuse difficult situations and you’ll improve the attention paid to you. This way you’ll establish a demanding and attentive presence that is the true hallmark of leadership.

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