Are you a writer, artist or creative professional using social audio for marketing? Do you wonder if there is a chapter in Debrett’s Handbook on social audio etiquette? If you are networking on Greenroom, Twitter Spaces, and Clubhouse, you will need good conversation skills. And until they update the Handbook, I will offer you some tips. Put them into practice and reap the rewards of branding through social audio.
I have been on Clubhouse for two weeks, and just over a week on Greenroom. Occasionally, Spaces show up on my Twitter timeline, and I drop in to listen as often as I can. And as I observed conversations in each space, I noticed that branded influencers had excellent social audio etiquette.
Before I present my list, I should point out that boundaries are important online. Your conversations are public, and rooms may be recorded without your knowledge or consent. Refrain from sharing private information to satisfy a listener’s curiosity.
On Sunday, I dropped in on a Greenroom conversation with a well-known podcaster. A voice without an avatar started asking me personal questions. Imagine hearing your name called out over the PA system at a crowded coffee shop, as someone asks you to say your street address and read out details from your driver’s license. It felt like that to me.
This kind of nosy question-asking is quite common, unfortunately, even offline. It happens because many people do not realise that you can learn good conversation skills. Which is why, when you practice these skills, you will grow your audience in a relatively short time.
Interruption as strategy
You may be surprised at how often people interrupt speakers on stage to ask an unrelated question. One reason for these kinds of questions is that the person wants to quickly form an opinion of you. Another reason is that they do not want to hear what you have to say. The distracting question serves to start a new topic or allow the person to become the focus of the conversation.
The polite response to this is silence. Mute your microphone, and allow some of the awkwardness to revert back to the speaker. It is polite to let the host start a new topic. Learn from my mistakes: You will never control another person’s inappropriate behaviour by raising an objection to it. They receive the attention they want by diverting you from the topic of discussion. And you may find that your response will irritate listeners.
For your part, be considerate by first observing the room dynamics (read the room), and then decide if you want to participate in the discussion. Focus on the topic of conversation and avoid questions that will start an unrelated topic thread. If you wish to do that, ask to connect with the speaker outside of the room, and continue your discussions there.
Even with the best of intentions, it is possible to say something that makes someone uncomfortable in your audio space. You can avoid this by limiting the meeting time, preparing open-ended questions, and having a list of topics ready before hosting a room.
Below, I have compiled five habits that will help you in social audio spaces. Your objective, as you practice them, is to maintain a positive atmosphere around yourself. When you send out invites to your own audio spaces in future, your guests should remember how they felt whenever they were on stage with you and be happy to support you.
Ask after objectives
Take a cue from hosts with large followings. They ask fellow speakers why they are participating in the conversation. They do this because they want to know how best to include the person in discussions. If you must, must, must ask an off-topic question, explain why you need to know this information. Again, be mindful that you are in a recorded conversation in a public forum.
Ask about experiences
If you want to play FBI, try asking someone to demonstrate their skills. They can do this by explaining something complex, or by rephrasing a statement. Be indirect and open-ended to elicit quality answers. Whereas, questions that require a one-word answer will leave the conversation dry. You will soon run out of things to talk about. Your audience will remember that.
Verbalise your offer to let someone speak first
With some platforms, if you would like to speak, you may interrupt another speaker. After a few seconds of silence, say, “I would like someone else to go first,” or something similar, and wait. That usually breaks the deadlock and gives you time to prepare. Remember that you want to be the last person to offer an opinion.
Explain any interruptions
At times, I am listening to a conversation while getting ready for work. For that reason, I may want to say something before the moderator moves on to the next topic. In that situation, I will say, “It’s six in the morning, and because I am getting ready for work, allow me to interject here so you can get on with the discussion?” Then, I speak for a very short time. Every time I do this, I get new follows and because of that, I will keep it up.
Follow through immediately
Whenever you receive invitations to collaborate or converse privately, follow through immediately. This shows that you are interested in hearing what the other person has to say. Conversations disappear into the memory’s ether, which is why collaborations are more likely to happen when you are responsive. Here are seven ways to follow up:
1. Save, share or comment on social media posts.
2. Post conversation notes with mentions to Instagram stories.
3. Quote tweets with a thank-you note.
4. Retweet a post relevant to the topic.
5. Subscribe to newsletters.
6. Send direct messages.
7. Send email.
Then, it is up to the speaker to show that they are equally interested in collaborating with you. My preferred method of following up is to tweet out from the room immediately after the offer has been made. I am noticing engagement on these kinds of tweets, even from people not in the conversation, and I will continue doing that.
It has only been two short weeks but so far, I can say that social audio feels like a casual chat at your local coffee shop. The connections you make tend to be fleeting. And because of that, you should work to build upon them so that your networking efforts become meaningful in retrospect.
When hosting, allow people to freely drop in and out of the room. But make them so comfortable they will apologise for leaving. Maybe you are not hoping to become a branded influencer, and that is okay. But if you cultivate good conversation skills for social audio, you will remain at the top of everyone’s VIP invitation list. And that is where you belong. Hang in there, and good luck with networking.