Makes it more interesting

Snowy and I went to something of a big ‘Do’ this week.  Dinner for 600 at Guildhall in the City.  Long frocks, men in their tuxes and a huge amount of energy in the room when 600 people sit and chat together.  Crikey!

As someone who recognises in herself my ‘Introvert with Extrovert Tendencies‘ I always have to gear myself up for events like this.

Preferring small group dinners, chats one-to-one or one-to-five for example, how do you navigate knowing only, say, 10 people in a room of 600 and not actually seeing any of those 10?!

My strategy is this.

As soon as I’m introduced to someone I repeat their name so I remember it.  Then, I move into question mode.  Not as in an investigator, more as a curious connector.

I find if I ask questions it settles me and it settles the other person.  From that point we get the sense of whether we want to continue the conversation or – as is often the case – whether the conversation is just one-sided ie.  they don’t ask questions, they just answer mine!  

A phrase I find useful to exit these kind of encounters is “Gosh NAME, I have been taking up so much of your time and it’s been great meeting you, I’m sure you want to meet other people too” and off I go.


I might say “Gosh I’ve been asking you so many questions, what would you like to ask me?” 

Now here’s where it’s quietly funny.  A lot of the time if I activate that question it’s because the other person is happily chatting about themselves and not interested in asking me a question.  But, I put them on the spot…

As a result of activating my questioning and curious mode I had a really fun evening.  I met some great characters, spoke to a Marquis and a couple of Sirs, an ex-Lord Mayor of London all using my opening, curious questions…  

And no, I didn’t manage to speak to the other 590 people!

Here are a few of my favourite questions which get conversations going:

  • So X (name), how have you got to be here and who introduced you to this kind of an evening?
  • What takes up most of your time these days (not “What do you do” – it’s more subtle than that!)
  • Tell me about your experience at X, what’s been the biggest challenge/opportunity?
  • When you’re chatting about a particular subject ie Lockdown/Covid – what did you find the hardest and what was best for you about that time?

They kind of sound a bit wooden when written here for you but I promise you, in the moment with noise, Champagne and lots of logistics going on around they’re immediately piercing.  

You can actually see people people go inside and think and I find out SO much which is interesting, funny, sad, brilliant – and then you can go from there.

So.  As you gear up for your next event, conference, big dinner/gathering, remember you don’t have to tell people anything, you just ground yourself and ask questions.

Now you’re cooking on gas – you find out so much you’d not otherwise have known.

A final word on the matter…



Asking the right questions before taking over a Project

 And in other news…

We scrub up OK! And the next day, jeans, jumper and trainers again but it’s good fun to glam up from time to time…

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