Knowing What to Say After Tragedy to Gain The Red Edge

Knowing What to Say After Tragedy to Gain The Red Edge

If you are in business, knowing what to say after a tragedy like Las Vegas is critically important.

Saying the right thing will help you Gain The Red Edge.

Saying the wrong thing will not.

Imagine you’re going into a meeting or sale presentation with a potential customer. The normal break-the-ice chitchat automatically goes to the horrible tragedy that happened in Las Vegas. One point leads to another and before you realize it, time is up and Vegas is all you’ve talked about.

No connection is made. The relationship fails to move forward. No sale is made.

Now imagine you know what to say is such a situation so you can appropriately make a connection to the incident while also taking care of business.

To find out how best to do this, I reached out to a couple of mentors for their advice.

I started with Max Brown, international speaker, leadership coach, and author of the acclaimed leadership book, Vertigo. Max has been good to offer advice in the past. And it’s great he lives right here Cache Valley.

His input is to acknowledge the incident, “but never with a political perspective.” At times, he said, he will “call out the event and ask how we can move forward.”

Acknowledge, keep it non-political, and look for ways to move forward.

I also reached out to David Avrin, keynote speaker, author, marketing consultant, and CEO of Visibility Coach.

Since everyone will be talking about the incident, David’s feels it’s good to acknowledge what happened. He offered what I believe to be one of the best transition phrases I’ve ever heard:

“It feels a little uncomfortable to talk about building our business when the news of the terrible tragedy is so fresh in our minds, but we do need to maximize our time together and plan for the future.”

This approach allows us to acknowledge the reality and scope of what happened while recognizing the prime reason we’re together.

Keep in mind, acknowledging the situation is different than talking about it.

This advice applies whether it’s a horrible tragedy, natural disaster, or any other subject that may be dominating the news at the moment.

I received similar guidance when I reached out to contacts in the Order of Men Facebook group:

Daniel Eberbach echoed similar points. “Don’t make it a focus point or large part of your presentation,” he said. “Just briefly mention it in the beginning before you officially start.”

Dale Allman suggested we need to understand our goals and our audience. Case in point, when he presented to a group in New Jersey shortly after 9/11, he made a reference to “Ground Zero” in a completely different context. “Got their attention,” he said.

Mike Manning cautioned that “emotionally charged overtones need to be delivered carefully to most audiences.”


I had the opportunity to put this guidance to the test Tuesday morning, just a day after waking up to the horrible news of what happened in Las Vegas.

I was presenting to the BizLink networking group of Cache Chamber of Commerce. I helped start BizLink several years ago and for the last couple of years have been the trainer.

The focus of my training was how to build a bridge of connection by finding common ground while not letting the common ground become the dominant focus.

I had not intended to teach what to do in the case of tragic events. But after the tragedy in Las Vegas, the subject was very relevant.

I applied the guidance I’ve shared here and the training went really well. I referenced the event, as suggested, then brought my message back to the subject at hand.

Knowing how to best start out a business conversation after a tragedy will help you Gain The Red Edge by keeping the conversation on track.

Photo by Mike Boening on Unsplash

Welcome to Gain The Red Edge, an exciting series highlighting best practices to inspire ideas, open up doors of opportunity and windows of creativity, and help you find clarity and focus for your personal and professional passions.

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One thought on “Knowing What to Say After Tragedy to Gain The Red Edge

  1. Thank you for the great advice and content that you provide here Les! Most of us are not in the business of politics so it is not what we should be talking about. It is good for us to see how we can direct the conversation in an appropriate manner that isn’t rude or dismissive.

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