I often stand in front of thousands of people. So, how can this be?
I’ve come to accept how God made me.
Maybe you can relate.
Maybe you get stressed at the thought of striking up new conversations with people you don’t know.
I know, I do at times.
Maybe the thought of being on a Holy Land bus tour with a lot of new people makes you nervous.
I get it.
When I started giving concerts across North America in the late 70s, there were some days that my stomach absolutely rolled at the thought of meeting new people and carrying on a conversation.
Then, a Pastor friend shared an old secret with me that he used. It’s called F.O.R.M.
Salespeople have used this for years. For them, it means:
For me, it stands for:
After forty years, I don’t use it as often as I used to. But every now and then I pull it out of my toolkit when my introverted self starts to take over.
Here’s how it breaks down for me (you should adjust it to fit the setting you’re in):
F: Family: Ask them about their family. If natural, you can share about your own.
- Can you tell me a little about your family?
- What are they doing now?
- Where did you grow up?
- What was it like growing up there?
- How did you meet your husband/wife?
- Do you have any children?
- How old are they?
- What are they doing now (or what do they like to do – if they’re young)?
O: Occupation: Ask them what they do for a living. They might ask you about yours as well.
- What do you do for a living now?
- What led you to this job?
- What do you like best about it?
- What do you find the most challenging?
- If someone came to you interested in your field, what do you think you’d tell them?
- What was one of your most interesting jobs you had when you were younger?
R: Recreation: Ask them about what they like to do for fun (hobbies, sports, arts, experiences). They might ask you about your recreation.
- What do you like to do in your spare time just for fun?
- How did you get into that?
- Do you have any other vacation plans?
- Have you seen any good movies or read any good books lately?
M: Meaning: Here’s where you want to find out what’s important to the other person.
- Aside from your job and what you do for fun, what’s really important for you?
- If you could ask God anything and He would give you an answer, what would you ask Him?
- At the end of life, what do you want to be remembered for?
- Why is that important to you?
One of the great things about FORM is that not only does it help to ask questions; it also has a progression. It usually starts with some of the least difficult questions (depending on their circumstances – so be aware), and it moves to a deeper conversation about the meaningful things in life.
Remember that most people love to talk about themselves. When people walk away from a conversation thinking they had a good talk, it’s usually because they were able to share a lot about themselves and that you didn’t dominate the conversation.
Also, remember that a good conversation is like a tennis match. You ask questions and they comment and then they ask questions. If they don’t ask you questions, that’s OK. You don’t need to be the hero of the story – they should be.
Finally, a conversation is not an interrogation. If they don’t want to go deep or answer or if they just want some quiet time, that’s OK. It’s fine to let things go.
Hopefully, these suggestions may help you if you’re starting a new conversation or if you’re on a Holy Land tour bus and want to get to know people a little better.
Or, maybe you’re an extrovert and have no problem at all in speaking with strangers. You can feel free to use F.O.R.M. on introverts like me. There are many of us.