Talk Targets™: How To Inspire Conversation

Susan RoAne is the leading expert in how to connect with anyone in any room at a time. It’s what every author needs to know and do to succeed in selling and marketing books. Get ready to learn from the pro at the Extravaganza.


People who produce, sell books and people who buy books, the better positioned we are as authors to build essential long-term relationships.

Being a Talk Target—someone who makes other people feel like brilliant conversationalists— is an art; one that we can all learn. These people offer, motivate, and encourage communication that builds relationships and business. And they listen!

We find them at work, at home, on sports fields, in meetings or classrooms, at conferences, writer retreats …everywhere we go.

Talk Targets understand that many people are shy and many other people are uncomfortable in a variety of settings. They go out of their way to make people feel comfortable and put them at ease One of the people who made a great impression on me because he went out of his ability and interest in doing this was a client: Woody Morcott. When he was CEO of Dana Corporation, a $7.5 billion company with factories in twenty-nine countries, I was invited to join the reception the night before my program for his senior executives. When I saw his Looney Tunes tie, I commented on it being so lighthearted and different.image006

“Susan, because I am the CEO of Dana, some people may be uncomfortable approaching me.”

This tie is so eye-catching and so much fun that it lets people know it’s okay to approach me. It gives them something to talk about, and also gives them a chance to feel good about initiating the conversation.”

The shyest among us— as well as those who self-identify as introverts— can inspire conversation by doing what Talk Targets do:

Here is a partial list:

  • Take the first step and initiate. Smile and say hello. People respond in kind.
  • Listen to introductions. Good listening requires practice and sometimes silence.
  • Maintain eye contact and smile.
  • Use humor appropriately to lighten the conversation.
  • Consider what is said and address it. Let the situation set the agenda.
  • Be well-read and familiar with current events.
  • Have a broad range of topics of interest.
  • Encourage others to contribute.
  • Volley the conversation by answering questions with a comment and a “return question.”
  • Learn about the perspectives and background of other parties.
  • Converse with an aura of authority and expertise.
  • Ask the opinions of others.
  • Tell interesting stories.
  • Be open to change and exchange.
  • Be enthusiastic.
  • Use others’ names in conversation (but not excessively).
  • Refrain from a monopolizing conversation.
  • Use varied tones, inflections, and pacing.
  • Pay attention to what has been said, and respond accordingly.
  • Put people at ease with friendliness.
  • Open up the circle of conversation by physically stepping back and allowing people to join.

We all do many of these things, but we can do more of them as we attend publishing industry conferences, workshops, and book events. We can be on our best behaviors as confident conversationalists — and inspire others to do the same. That will make us Talk Targets in any group.


Thimagesis material was excerpted from How To Work A Room® and What Do I Say Next?  Susan RoAne, a nationally recognized speaker on topics including networking and conversation strategies, is also the author of The Secrets of Savvy Networking and What Do I Say Next? Susan RoAne may be contacted at

Follow her on twitter  @susanroane  @howtoworkaroom®

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