In-Scope: Mastering Critical Conversations

Charlotte Fetherston-Godley is an Account Manager within OMD Fuse Melbourne, helping clients deliver on their business challenges with content led decisions.



We have conversations every day. Whether it’s presenting to a client, negotiating with a supplier, speaking to a colleague or communicating with a consumer, these conversations matter.

Most of these conversations are routine, but sometimes we are caught off guard, faced with conflict or overwhelmed by a situation and the immediate reaction is to retreat. This protective instinct and factors such as relationship, responsibility, experience and feelings can hinder us having important, critical conversations.

So what can we do? There is a strategic process that can help us communicate more effectively and empower us to have critical conversations in a productive manner, making them more likely to achieve the desired outcome.

Prepare an Opening Statement

The opening line is key to framing a conversation and setting the tone. It can be used to outline the intention from the beginning and preparing it in advance allows it to be delivered with confidence.

This can be applied to campaigns as well. If the opening line delivers the key message with impact, the consumer is more likely to listen. The Transport Accident Commission (TAC) has to deliver serious messages all the time and their “Towards Zero” campaign is a good example of a critical conversation where the opening statement sets the scene straight away.

Use Facts

This is probably the most important component. No one can argue with facts. Facts provide hard evidence and separate emotion from situations that can be subject to interpretation. It is important not to make assumptions, but to be specific and use trusted information to explain a situation or build a case.

Brands benefit from using facts in their advertising as well. They add trust and reality to creative messages that consumers can’t question.



Move Forward / Take Action

On conclusion of any conversation, presentation, negotiation or even campaign, it is important the key outtakes are fully understood. Whether this is knowing what to do next time or a call to action, it allows people to understand what’s expected and move forward in a united manner.


These tools provide a framework to empower us to have important conversations and can help us tackle difficult topics head on, instead of shying away from them. They are by no means the answer to every critical conversation, but they provide a foundation and structure to deliver key messages with conviction.

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