From Small Talk to Big Impact: Harnessing the Power of Personal Conversations

Creating a Culture of Connection

In this episode of Soft Skills for Leaders, host Lisa Evans chats with Kirryn Zerna, a former corporate communications professional in the financial services industry, who spent the first 20 years of her career developing campaigns for large-scale organisations aimed at capturing the hearts and minds of their employees.

Inspired by her passion for public speaking, she transitioned into becoming a speaker herself, focusing on helping individuals envision new possibilities and take the next step in their personal growth. After leaving the corporate world, Kirryn ventured into the field of marketing, where she specialised in assisting small businesses to stand out from the competition.

Welcome back to Soft Skills for Leaders, the podcast where we delve into the human side of leadership to help you enhance your skills and create a culture of connection. I’m your host, Lisa Evans, and I’m thrilled to be bringing you another episode filled with curious conversations, tips, tools, and ideas to develop critical leadership skills.

Before we dive into today’s topic, I want to address the gap in releasing episodes recently. Finding available interviewees during busy times has presented some challenges, but I’m back on track!

I’m considering incorporating more solo episodes based on a suggestion from one of our listeners. Speaking of which, I’d love to hear from you! What topics would you like to explore in upcoming episodes? Drop me a message and let me know.

Now, let’s get into today’s episode.

Connection is the glue that holds organisations together, but building those connections can be challenging due to individual differences and remote work.

In this conversation, we will discuss how connected leaders understand and meet the needs of their teams and organisations. Through effective communication and small talk, they bridge gaps and cultivate high performance.

We’ll also explore the impact of remote work and flexible schedules on connection, as well as the importance of maintaining boundaries while staying connected. Kirryn will provide practical advice on developing communication, understanding team members’ preferred communication methods, and creating rhythms that foster engagement and productivity.

So, whether you’re a seasoned leader or just starting out on your leadership journey, this episode is packed with valuable insights and actionable tips to help you create a culture of connection. Stay tuned as we dive into the art of connection with Kirryn Zerna.

“We’re living in a place where there’s an attention scarcity, that there are so many channels, so many digital options competing for our attention and so we need to be intentional about communicating which ones we will use and then stick to that plan.”


00:05:15 Connection is vital; a leader understands team, organisation, relationships.

00:08:57 Flexible work hours, diverse communication methods, potential misunderstandings.

00:10:13 Increased expectation for quick response in flexible work.

00:13:48 Setting intentional boundaries in a global work environment.

00:18:16 Remote work lacks social connection and trust.

00:22:37 Leaders should clearly communicate their preferences.

00:26:36 Building team rapport is important for productivity.

00:28:13 Curiosity, listening, and effective communication for leaders.

Why Listen?

Discover the transformative power of connection in leadership as we explore practical strategies to create a culture of connection and unleash the full potential of your team. Tune in to gain valuable insights and unlock the secrets of fostering meaningful relationships in the workplace.

Talking Points

  • Importance of connection in organisations and its role in team dynamics and performance.
  • Impact of small talk on employee well-being and behaviour at work.
  • Importance of understanding individual preferences for work and communication.
  • Importance of social connection in the workplace and challenges in remote work.
  • Challenges and opportunities in digital communication and maintaining boundaries.
  • Importance of clear communication styles and setting expectations.

The top three takeaways from this episode are:

1. Building connections and cultivating a culture of connection is essential for leaders. It acts as the glue that holds the organisation together and leads to better team dynamics and performance.

2. Small talk plays a significant role in fostering connection and improving employees’ well-being and behaviour at work. Leaders should not neglect the art of small talk and engage in personal conversations to show interest, build rapport, and create connections.

3. Effective communication is crucial for maintaining connections in today’s fast-paced, digital work environment. Leaders should establish clear communication styles and preferences, have upfront conversations, and develop an “operating manual” for each team member to ensure effective and efficient communication.


“I see inclusive leadership as the use of inclusion to support individuals, teams and organisations performing. Every single person, regardless of their identity, functions better when they have a sense of belonging and that their uniqueness is valued.”

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Connect with Kirryn Zerna

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kirrynzerna/

Website: https://www.kirrynzerna.com/

Connect with Lisa Evans 

LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/lisaevansspeaker/

Website  https://www.speakingsavvy.com.au

Ready to level up your speaking, presenting and business storytelling? Book a complimentary coaching session with Lisa here.

Your Host Lisa Evans is one of Australia’s leading Executive Public Speaking Coaches and Corporate Storytelling Trainers. If you would like help training your team in soft skills, public speaking and business storytelling, get in touch with Lisa.



If you are based in Australia, you may be interested in hosting a facilitated storytelling for leader’s workshop. I have delivered these workshops to groups worldwide, both in-person and online. There is a format to suit every group, from two hours to two days. Click the button below, to find out how you can get ahead in your communication using the power of storytelling. 
Lisa Evans helps professionals to craft compelling business stories and become exceptional speakers. Lisa is a certified speaker coach, TEDx speaker coach, four times author, NLP practitioner, graphic recorder and visual storyteller, improvisational actor, and host of the Soft Skills for Leaders podcast She has coached thousands of leaders across a range of industries, including resources, banking, finance, engineering, retail and sales as well as not-for-profit and community associations.  If you wish to take advantage of a complimentary session in order to chat about how you can become an exceptional and successful speaker with a stand-out brand, then use this link to book a time to chat. Download my e-book – How to Build Confidence and Overcome Nervousness.
Lisa Evans

Professional Speaker