Don’t Make This Mistake in a Business Conversation – Choosing the Wrong Starting Place

Posted on: April 3rd, 2019 by Jen Mueller

Years ago, one of the presentation decks I used started with a red dot on the first slide. That was it. Just a red dot. Big enough that you could see what it was, but without any context for the audience. The second slide revealed the full picture, and the audience discovered they were looking at a bullseye.

Those slides helped underscore the importance of context, perspective and starting from the same point of reference. It was obvious to everyone in the room what the red dot was when I flipped back to the first slide, but only because they were all on the same page and had just seen the same thing.

Just like with the bullseye, sometimes we lose sight of the bigger picture and the fact that not everyone is seeing or hearing things the same way we are. It’s obvious that looking at a red dot without any context is confusing, but are you aware of how often that happens in conversations?

When get dialed in and focused, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that everyone else isn’t in the same place. They haven’t been problem-solving the client issue that came up this morning. They don’t feel compelled to take immediate action on what was discussed in the staff meeting. They aren’t obsessed with email discussion that’s gone around the office.

Everyone is in to their own thing. So, you can’t assume people are starting from the same point of reference in a conversation. If you do, you could be adding to the confusion and communication breakdowns at work.

Take a look at the video and see what my shoes and Gatorade have to do with this conversation, then consider how to give colleagues the context and perspective they need to have a productive conversation.

Effective communicators avoid confusion by starting from the same point of reference. You can do that by verbally referencing a previous conversation or situation. Click To Tweet


Key Takeaway:

Effective communicators avoid confusion by starting from the same point of reference.

Jen Mueller is a badass at business communication. She’s spent nearly 20 years in sports broadcasting and knows what effective communication sounds like. Her experience in professional locker rooms provides a unique take on business communication. Jen is a member of the Seattle Mariners television broadcast team and the sideline radio reporter for the Seattle Seahawks. Hire Jen to speak for your next conference, event or training. Email: 


Talk Sporty Challenge for Your Workweek

Posted on: March 31st, 2019 by Jen Mueller

Fear of making a mistake isn’t a good reason to avoid a conversation. It’s true in small talk and in bigger business conversations.

In addition, moving past those fears is difficult without the confidence that comes from practice. With that in mind see how many of these topics you can work into small talk conversations this week.

Topics that Pair Well with Sports

Posted on: March 27th, 2019 by Jen Mueller

I went to Japan with the Mariners.

I was there to cover a baseball team, playing baseball games.

Sports was the reason for the trip.

And yet…

If you ask me about my trip to Japan I’ll tell you about the food, the sightseeing, trying to navigate the train system, how clean the city was… and then I’ll tell you about the baseball.

Watching baseball in Japan in an experience you’ll never forget (especially when you also happen to watch one of the greatest players in the game retire in his home country.) It’s just not the only think to talk about when you visit the country.

Which illustrates that point that sports isn’t just about sports. There is a whole wide world (literally) of things to talk about outside the stats and scores of game. Sports can be the entry point to a number of different conversation topics. Which is why you should use sports to your advantage.

It’s why sports small talk builds business relationships and it’s why sports works better than a game of 20-questions.

Sports cuts to the chase while opening a door.

“Did you see the game?” The answer is either “Yes” or “No” and if it’s “No,” the follow-up becomes, “What were you doing instead?”


Did you go to Japan with the Mariners?

“Yes, and I’d visit Tokyo again in a heartbeat.”


Sports started the conversation and opened the door for topics you’re more interested in which is a heck of a lot easier than trying to guess what people want to talk about.

A “20-questions” or “Speed-dating approach” does not build relationships as much as it starts an interrogation.

Here are 3 topics useful in taking a non-sports approach to a sports conversation.

Location. Whether it’s Tokyo, London or Cleveland, Ohio a game taking place in a city other than your own can lead to a conversation about the last trip you took, upcoming work trips, recent vacations and bucket-list destinations.

Food. In Tokyo bento boxes, sushi and noodles are concession stand items. In Seattle crickets are served at one of the restaurants. Each stadium serves different food that reflects the region. Go to the game, stay for the food.

Fan experience. What you like most about going to the game could be the game itself, or it could be the venue, ambiance, food or any number of other things. Use the game-day experience to spring board into a broader topic.

Sports fans have more than one interest. Start with what you know about their sports fandom and let that lead into the next part of the conversation and a deeper understand of who they are and how you can continue to engage with them and talk to them.

Talking sports for work is different than talking sports at a tailgate, sports bar or sporting event.

I’ve got the process and strategies you need to make sports useful in business conversations.

Join me for a FREE 30-minute crash course during your lunch hour Friday April 12 from 12:30-1pm PST

You’ll learn:

  • How to become a sports fan for business
  • Tips on making sports talk easier and in some cases not even talking about sports
  • The exit strategies you need if you get mistaken for a sports fan who knows (or cares) more than you actually do.
  • Learn how to read a box score so you don’t have to spend hours watching baseball games.

It’s FREE to sign up and get the recording. There is a huge benefit in being able to connect with sports fans. This is a starting point. Sign up today.

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