Penelope Rance

My UX research & design ramblings

Book Review - Making Conversation

As a UX Researcher I am always looking for ways to improve, particularly around how I can get the best from the people I speak to so I truly understand their worries and issues. After all if I do not fully understand these things how can I pass this on to my colleagues to make sure we make the best products possible?

Photo of the book
Making Conversation by Fred Dust

So when I came across Fred Dust’s new book Making Conversation I was very interested.

I spend a lot of my time writing questions and scripts for speaking to people but am I really getting the best from them? And what about when we go off piste?

Fred very much believes that you can design conversations and sets out the seven essential elements that he believes are necessary for meaningful communication.

Although some of the things he talks about are maybe for conversations at a slightly higher level than the sort I have, there was still so much here that can help me, not just when conducting research, but conversations at work with stakeholders and at home.

I think the most powerful points he makes are about the intention of the conversation. And the fact that it is not just the words spoken but the environment they are spoken in and the people who are included in the conversation that is important.

He speaks about timings and breaking up meetings so you do not spend hours in one conversation. He also talks about props that can be used to help the conversation forward.

As a former senior partner at IDEO it is not really surprising that so much thought has gone into something that seems so simple as just talking to people, but everything in this book made so much sense to me.

I also love the fact that next time I need to attend a meeting where it is more important I listen than speak, and I bring my knitting with me, I can tell everyone that it is proven to make me a better listener according to Fred.

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