Summary: My colleague Tim Wilson has a great recent post to his Public Speaking Library blog about handling the unexpected with a smooth segue into your intended idea. This works not just at public presentations, but also in private conversations.
My colleague Tim Wilson writes a blog (The Public Speaking Library) for—who else?—public speakers. Whether you're a professional presenter by trade, a teacher with class or simply someone who delivers the occasional industry workshop, office pitch or random wedding toast, Tim has tips that can help YOU.
Written in bite-sized nuggets for easy digestion, his blog posts offer all sorts of advice that refreshes almost daily. You can search the blog for info. that's relevant to what you're facing.
One recent post is titled, "Handling the Unexpected." While it's geared toward those addressing a crowd, the fact is that Tim's suggestion are pertinent to people in a variety of situations, from one-on-one conversations (especially with a staff member or trainee) to difficult settings of mediation. In each of these times, a remarkable way to make a point is to put it in the form of a question—for example, "How do YOU think we should resolve the problem?"
Here's what Tim says about the subject:
"When you're asking ... a question in order to find a certain answer, sometimes someone says something that doesn't fit into your presentation. When this happens, the first thing you need to do is give the person credit for saying something. The next thing is to work on moving from their point to the point that you are looking for. One way to do this is to use the 'yes and' method. Once someone says something off of your topic, say something like, 'Yes, that is definitely one answer to the problem. And another thing to think about is ...,' then mention the point you wanted the person to bring up."
For more intimate circumstances—especially those where you're looking to teach another person (or a group of people), but want them to reach the same conclusions that you have on their own—it's vital to truly listen to the other's (or others') responses. Pay attention to their input, and see if you can weave it into the output that you're seeking (i.e., "I hear what you're saying about teamwork; I wonder if we could work as a team in this way ...").
Coming to a group consensus is important in conflict resolution, as well as audience participation. Using a well-crafted segue (see the definition below) can take you there—together.
Segue (SEG - way) - (v.) to proceed to what follows without a pause; to make a transition without interruption from one activity, topic, scene or part to another (as in, "She segued smoothly into the next story"); (n.) the act or instance of segueing; a transition to the next idea, etc.
And speaking of segues (how's that for a clumsy one?!), I've only gotten one response to the potential connection between the words conjugation and conjugal. So, keep looking for their correlation, friends!
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