The Most Important 30 Seconds in Every Conversation

By Brent Kelly

“Hi my name is Brent. I help insurance leaders communicate with purpose, connect with confidence, and lead with greater influence so they achieve world-class results. I would love to see how I could help your organization. Here is my card, would you like to grab coffee or hop on a call sometime so you can learn more?”

While this is true and I am proud of what I do for insurance professionals and organizations, this is NOT the best way to open up a conversation. Yet this is how most people start conversations with others……by talking all about themselves.

The 30-second rule

I learned something from my mentor called the 30-second rule and I have applied it to my conversations with prospects, clients, business partners, and my family. It’s one of the best communication and leadership ideas I have ever learned and it’s something that any leader can and should apply to their daily conversations.

Most of the time, we focus our conversations on who we are, what we do, and/or what we want. This could be true at a networking event, in the office, or on the phone.

The point of the 30-second rule is to make sure in the first 30 seconds of every conversation that you say something encouraging about that person.

It’s amazing how simple, yet how effective this practice truly is. Everyone wants to feel encouraged. Encouragement gives people energy and instills motivation.

Our time is the most precious asset we have and when we give someone our complete and undivided attention you make them feel like a million bucks. I promise you will feel like a millions bucks as well.

William King said, “A gossip is one who talks to you about other people. A bore is one who talks to you about himself. And a brilliant conversationalist is one who talks to you about yourself.”

When someone gives you a genuine compliment (no one should be giving an insincere compliment) how do you feel? Are you grateful? Do you have a bit more energy? Do you stand up a bit taller? Of course you do.

This is especially true in the first 30 seconds of every conversation.

 You want to energize a room? Start giving sincere compliments and just watch the results.

I often hear from insurance leaders on how to motivate their team, their company partners, or their clients. Start by encouraging them.

Most of us know what we should be doing, but that doesn’t mean we do it. The greatest gap in performance is the gap between knowing and doing. This is where the 30-second rule can be so powerful.

A couple of years ago, I was getting ready to deliver a training webinar to 35 insurance professionals. This was a big opportunity for me to give value, build my reputation, and make some sales. Unfortunately, it was a complete disaster. The video and audio cut in and out, the slides were messed up, and within 15 minutes only about 5 people were left. When the misery ended, I was dejected and thought that I had completely blown it.

I received a call about 10 minutes later from someone who was on my training webinar. He laughed and told me that it was definitely rough, but that he had experienced similar challenges. He also told me something that I will never forget.

He said, “Brent, I stayed on for the entire webinar and you have amazing potential. You have a unique ability to communicate and connect through your stories and principles. It’s too bad that more people didn’t hang around because they would have really learned a lot. You need to keep doing this because someday, you will be a world-class speaker and trainer.”

You can only imagine how that made me feel, what it did for my confidence, and how it has motivated me to be a better speaker and trainer.

He could have just as easily started out the conversation telling me all the things I did wrong…..and he would have been right. However, he spent the first 30-seconds on this phone call encouraging me. That inspired me to get better.

How does the 30-second rule motivate people to achieve more? In the book “25 Ways to Win With People” the authors describe the power of motivation.

  1. Motivation helps people who know what they should do…to do it.
  2. Motivation helps people who know what habit they should break…to break it
  3. Motivation helps people who knows what commitments they should make…to make them
  4. Motivation helps people who know what path they should take…to take it

This is exactly what the person did when he called me and encouraged me after my webinar disaster.

As a leader, whether you are a CEO, president, sales producer, customer service representative, or ANYONE who has influence, the first 30-seconds is the most important part of every conversation.

Thinks of ways you can thank someone for what they have done, discuss an accomplishment they have achieved, or simply acknowledge a personal attribute.

The 30-second rule isn’t complicated, but it will require you to take time, effort, and discipline.

You will find that by applying this practice into your life, you will improve your relationships and gain more influence.


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