Select Page

I don’t know Paul and now our conversation is uncomfortable. Well, maybe not uncomfortable but I’m definitely not as engaged as I was two seconds ago.

We all have that family member, co-worker, or friend who tends to reference someone without even thinking about the fact that I’m not at all aware of who they are. It irks me more than it probably should but I think it’s worth addressing in the context of knowing who your audience is.

While the clear-minded among us can probably figure out the context of what (or who) you’re talking about, you need to know that it puts a wedge into the conversation.

It makes me think that maybe I’m supposed to know that person. Who is he talking about? Have I met them? Who in the world is Paul? Is my memory failing? Yes, I’m having that internal dialogue while you’re still talking.

I learned a long time ago working on the radio that a listener isn’t tuning in for that long. They’re flipping around the stations, so it’s important to “reset” a story, especially after a song or a commercial break. Be descriptive, explain and re-explain all of the players in a story. That’s an important key when it comes to interaction with your customers, friends, guests, and anyone you’re talking to.

It’s a BIG pet peeve and luckily it’s a SMALL fix. I could say that “Tessa just got back from San Diego and said it was beautiful” or I could simply add two words and it gives more detail to the story: “My wife Tessa just got back from San Diego and said it was beautiful”. That’s it, a simple modifier. My wife, my friend, my weird uncle, our office manager, my preacher.

I get it, I’m nit-picky. Maybe this doesn’t bother most people…or maybe it does and they just haven’t said anything to you yet.

Do what you can to make sure the person you’re talking to is engaged and not filling in the blanks of your story in their head.


Pete Herrick is a radio personality, speaker, blogger and podcaster. He works with groups on leadership, culture, transition, efficiency, storytelling and branding. Find him on social media @peteherrick or at Now booking engagements, contact us for availability.