Miles Takes introduced the Christopher Bowers, the guest speaker, who plans to help us to have a "conversation."  Christopher Bowers, a retired teacher of 30+ years, teaching: Math. Music, Entrepreneurship, and Intro Japanese.  Since arriving in Victoria in 2005 has has spent a lot time teaching people about the power of great questions and having authentic conversation.  Christopher started Conversation Works Charity.



Christropher's presentation, Art of Conversation, stressed to members the importance to make sure that conversations count.  A practitioner tries to make sure there is something meaningful in every conversation.  The skills that help ensure meaningful conversation occur when working the room, include:
- Every question counts. You have 2 questions before the listener/everyone moves on and loses interest.  You have to engage the your conversation target both emotionally and physically;
- Open questions are much more effective as opposed to closed questions.  
- Avoid superlatives; avoid paralysis by analysis.  To achieve this, try to ask what "one of the best is" as opposed to "what is the best."
- Avoid front loading - you will be listened to and get better information  
- Ask a question that matters to you instead and realize that someone beside you has something to offer you.
- Piggybacking if someone is saying something interesting then go for more depth.

Christopher provided an example of keeping focused when he won a teaching award.  This award resulted in the school Principal thinking that he could teach anything - Christopher asked him to teach Japanese.  Without knowing Japanese, he led the class for a month and finished the course by interviewing the Canadian/Japanese principal, who were experienced internment in Canada.  Why is the important for Rotary?  To illustrate this, Shellie Gudgeon volunteered to take questions from Rotarians to practice the principles shared by Christopher in this presentation. 

We are encourage to use this technique, both in Rotary (as we will have more effective information sharing in events such as classification talks) or in any business/social event when you are working the room.

One last tip, when dealing with someone who is potentially less than honourable, use the first question to gauge the person.  If its a silly response just discontinue conversation and move on.  

The Speaker was thanks by John Ratel who shared his experience in having conversations with people who really can't wait for their chance to talk and aren't interested in having a true dialogue.