Every year, without fail, from the age of five, my primary school report would say something along the lines of Louise
- Needs to learn when it’s time to talk and time to learn
- Could leave some of her chatting in the playground
- Sometimes loses her concentration due to her ‘chatty’ nature
As I moved into secondary school I began to get comments like this:
- Expresses her ideas confidently yet shows tolerance to the opinion of others
- Always speaks up in class discussions and shows respect for the views of her classmates
- Enjoys discussions and evaluates the opinions of others
It makes sense then, that now, I fully believe that talking is my greatest asset. And not just talking but listening too, or in other words having a conversation. I know when I’m in a great conversation because I can feel the rhythm and it feels purposeful. This article goes some way to explain how a conversation takes place, according to Judy Apps, the word “conversation” is comprised of the words con (with) and versare (turn): “conversation is turn and turnabout – you alternate.”
Start with why
Every project, campaign or piece of Magpie work starts with a conversation. It starts with the client or a partner telling me about the problem they want to fix, the behaviour they want to change or the idea they want to communicate. This conversation is vital, it’s where I get to really understand the objectives, work out what’s needed and decipher what success looks like. I have to ask the right questions to get to unearth what’s needed.
Like most, I learnt this conversation technique as a child: ‘Mummy, why do you have to go to work?’, ‘Daddy, how do the clouds stay up in the sky?’. A quick google search tells me that on average children ask 73 questions a day. Asking questions is how I learnt about the world and this sense of curiosity never stopped. When starting a new project I often refer back to Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle concept where I try to find the ‘why’. It seems those whys of my childhood were getting me ready for a role in marketing.
Insight and co-creation
I’m passionate about working with our target audience to gain an understanding about the things that motivate them (or scare them). Through insight and co-creation I learn so much about the groups we’re wanting to engage with. It goes without saying that conversation plays a huge role in gaining this insight.
I LOVE talking to our target populations, whether through zoom focus groups or one on one face to face conversations, learning about their lives really gets me excited for the project ahead. Many of my campaigns see me reaching out to unheard voices and it’s only through a conversation that I can build the trust needed to really get to the heart of a subject. It’s through the power of conversation that means I can empathise enough to remove any power imbalances and show that I care and want to understand. I’m not sure other forms of research would reach those nuggets of insight that make the difference between a good campaign and a great campaign.
Magpie often utilises networking marketing techniques. Asking communities to either feature in campaigns or spread the message. This doesn’t happen overnight and building connections with key people within a community helps me gain support for the campaign I’m working on. Building relationships with the people I talk to means I can go back to them time and time again to test, develop and further co-create. It’s a great way of ensuring we’re getting our message right. It means we can pivot a campaign message or change a delivery method. Yet again it’s through conversation that these relationships are formed
I’m still probably one of the more ‘chatty’ members of the team but it seems I’ve been practising the art of good conversation since I was five years old and it’s a great skill to keep developing. It’s the backbone of my work so I’ll take the title of ‘chatty’ any day.
In fact, my final thought brings me back to that word ‘chatty’. Some of the topics I cover are tough (staff suicide prevention, lonliness, opiod addiction, male suicide prevention) but it’s being chatty and everything that comes along with it: open, conversational, friendly, unresserved and forthcoming that helps me to understand the behaviour of real people to make real change and in the case of some of our campaigns save lives.
If you’d like to use your power of conversation to create behaviour change why not call for a chat.
0113 318 3051 (call me)