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Do Conversation

There is no such thing as small talk.

Robert Poynton

'In conversation, we don’t just talk with individuals, we encounter entire worlds.'

Conversation is about more than communication. It’s how we connect with each other and make sense of the world; it’s an essential part of being human.

So why do some flow, while others are stilted and awkward? Can we make difficult conversations easier?

In this book, Robert Poynton explores the everyday miracle that leads to new ideas and deeper relationships. He offers simple ways to improve our natural ability so that we overcome any anxiety, converse more skilfully and have more meaningful interactions. You will:

  • Discover it’s not about being clever, witty or winning arguments
  • Learn to listen and hold space
  • Find out how a simple bit of structure can make all the difference
  • Create the conditions for more fruitful conversations

The best conversations aren’t planned or one-sided; they are highly responsive, improvised exchanges. Let’s keep talking.

This paperback purchase includes a free ebook download. 


Wise, inspirational and empowering, Do Conversation is one of the finest things I've read about this foundational human practice. Poynton shows how the best conversations are a dance of attention, generosity and pleasure – and what it might mean for us all to weave them more richly through our lives.

Tom Chatfield, author & tech philosopher

Thanks to smart phones and social media, we’re losing the art of conversation… Reclaim it with some help from this book

Country & Town House magazine
Robert’s Do Lecture

Beyond Control. A complex world demands the ability to improvise

Do you have a mind like water? Water is flexible. When it meets an obstacle, it goes around it. Improv teaches us to be flexible. To think of everything as a gift, as an opportunity.

About the author

Robert Poynton divides his time between an off-grid house in rural Spain and Oxford, where he is an Associate Fellow of the Saïd Business School. At Oxford his work is practical not academic — the workshops and programmes he runs are designed to help leaders have conversations they don’t normally have. He has also worked with clients such as the BBC, Chanel, Merck, Unilever and Airbus.

In Spain he hosts experiential events like Reading Retreats – which use books to spark conversation. He is also the co-founder of Yellow (a learning experience) and On Your Feet (an improv-based consultancy). He has spoken and led workshops at the DO Lectures, Skoll World Forum, Stanford d-school, Singularity University and Schumacher College. He is the author of Do Pause (2019) and Do Improvise (2013, updated 2022). He is married with three sons. His wife runs an organic beef farm.

Product details

  • Published: 7th March 2024
  • Dimensions: 120 x 178mm
  • Extent: 136 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1-914168-27-7
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-914168-28-4


Photographs by Jim Marsden and illustrations by Nick Parker

Paper & print details

Paperback editions printed by OZGraf Print on Munken, an FSC-certified paper

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