The 5-Minute Conversation


Photo: Grace Hao

By Grace Hao

“Talk is Cheap!”
“Time is Money!”
“Get to the Point!”

Some may say these statements lack aloha, while others argue that they have merit. The gift and challenge our local business professionals face is discerning when to “talk story” and when to “talk strategic” with colleagues or clients.

Time is a precious resource and the ability to communicate in an accelerated fashion is valuable. The following strategies will support five-minute connections.

Focal Point Question

Support the client or colleague to take a multitude of subjects or a broad topic and narrow it to one priority. Impactful questions are asked with curiosity and wonderment. A few examples of focal point questions:

  1. What is one priority we could discuss within five minutes?
  2. What would be a goal (that you have) for our conversation?
  3. Looking at the list of subjects we could talk about, what is No. 1?


Listening is honoring and others-focused. Laurie Buchanan, PhD, once said, “When we listen, we hear someone into existence.” Listening insights to consider:

  1. Keep in mind that the ability to gift complete attention to another becomes easier when a specific time frame has been established.
  2. Be prepared to take mental and physical notes.
  3. Paraphrase what was shared so the speaker feels heard.


Be clear about the reason or intention for the conversation. Is the focus to complain or resolve the matter? A few questions that can transition a conversation from problem-oriented to solution-oriented:

  1. How could this be addressed?
  2. What is an alternative?
  3. What has worked in the past? What is working? What could work in the future?
  4. May we brainstorm possible solutions?

Decide & Take Action

When the colleague or client makes an inspired decision, their commitment increases and they follow-through with enthusiasm. During a brief, five-minute conversation, they are likely to walk away with one or two specific action items. A few key strategies for accelerating a decision:

  1. Ask a distinction question, e.g., opposites, options, differences.
    1. Is this a solo effort or a team effort?
    2. Will this be high or low on the priority list?
    3. How is that hindering or helping?
  2. What is a highlight from our conversation?
  3. What has become clear?

Grace Hao has more than 20 years of local, national and international experience speaking, coaching and facilitating audiences as small as one and as large as 16,000+. You are welcome to access a complimentary video that reveals more insights and ideas to maximize your “Talking Story” and “Talking Strategic” moments. Visit