Do you ever find yourself running out of things to say? Fret not. Use these science-backed techniques to keep the conversation going.
One of the biggest conversational mistakes is going into your events, dates, meetings and parties directionless. You would never start driving to a new destination without the address so why would you start a conversation without a goal in mind? A conversation without a game plan is like driving without a map.
Here’s how to have open body language right when you walk in the door: - Keep your hands visible - Roll your shoulders down and back so they are nice and relaxed - Smile when you see someone you recognize or you want to talk to - Make eye contact as you walk towards them or say hello
Have you ever watched Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee? (Best. Sunday. Morning. Treat. Ever!) Jerry Seinfeld gave an amazing social tip to make small talk whenever he meets strangers. And this tip ALWAYS works, because there will ALWAYS be an answer from the other person.
First, research has found that the most effective conversation starter is a simple, “Hello, how are you?” It’s super easy, but it works! Second, you can always use context to help. Ask how the wine is or comment on the venue or event. These are extremely subtle and make it easy to strike up conversation.
Some of the most talented conversationalists do something called ‘Bookmarking’ during conversations. This is an advanced technique that I love, but it does take some practice. The bookmarking technique is when you add markers or emphasis to a certain part of the conversation that can create a deeper connection. Bookmarks are verbal markers you say to make it easier to follow-up or have something to talk about in the future.
Once you have the conversation started you want to keep it going. The most charismatic people look for conversation sparks. They bring up topics, look for ideas and ask questions that spark energy or get the person excited. If you orient your questions and intention around eliciting sparks, it will be much easier to keep the conversation going and avoid awkward lulls or directionless chit chat.
I want to teach you one of the easiest and most fun nonverbal conversation tricks. The eyebrow raise. Across cultures, the eyebrow raise is what we do when we hear or see something interesting. When you see someone do it in conversation it often means you have said something engaging or brought up a topic that peaks their curiosity. The eyebrow raise is the physical indicator of a spark.
What are your favorite stories to tell? What is a story you can tell to back up a claim? How can you answer in anecdotes? Warning: Stories are great, but don’t be a conversational narcissist—make sure you do equal talking and listening by asking for their stories as well.
When we share something, we want someone else to share something. When we ask a question we want them to answer and ask us back. It doesn’t have to be tit for tat, but we are coded to look for and be treated with equality. Be sure you are not a moocher and give back as much as you get. My three favorite words? Not “I love you” — although those are good too! Always ask people, “How about you?” after you finish answering. These three little words are perfect for encouraging reciprocity.
Future Mentions: “Well, I can’t wait to see you at that ___ coming up—I’ll email you!” Inside Jokes: “It was great laughing with you. I’ll be sure to ___ in the future ;)” Same Same: “I’m so glad I met a fellow ___ fan. You made my night!” You Have to See: “I’ll be sure to send that link your way, great talking to you!”
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