When you’re in the middle of a conversation, it can be easy to stall and run out of things to say. It also can be difficult to keep from bringing up the same topics repeatedly or talking too much about yourself, especially if you’re nervous about saying something wrong. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to keep conversations moving forward and keep everyone involved happy these are 8 ways to keep a conversation going during your next social event or business meeting.
- The easy way to start a conversation
- How to Keep a Conversation Going
- Ask follow-up questions
- Things to avoid saying in a conversation
- How to end a conversation
- Tips for shy people
The easy way to start a conversation
Be honest. Be respectful. Ask questions. You might not think these simple rules for starting a conversation will make much of a difference, but trust us on this one—these three tips go a long way toward making new acquaintances feel more comfortable in your presence, and you can’t go wrong with that. And if you follow all three tips at once, your odds of making new friends just went up substantially!
How to Keep a Conversation Going
Now as you have started a conversation let’s check out some tips to keep it going.
Body language makes you more engaging
It might sound cliché, but you can actually improve your ability to keep a conversation going by paying attention to body language. To start, avoid distractions and make sure that both you and your conversation partner are facing each other. Eye contact is important in showing interest, so it’s important that you don’t look down at notes or texts in between talking.
Have fun. Talk about whatever interests you.
We all know that small talk isn’t so small after all—it’s important, whether you realize it or not. That said, it doesn’t mean you should stress out every time you see someone new (unless they happen to be your boss). Just go into every social situation with an open mind. Learn more about who that person is and have fun talking about what interests you both. And if nothing at all interests you?
People love talking about themselves. When you genuinely show interest in what someone is saying, you create an atmosphere of trust and respect that invites your conversation partner to open up further. When someone feels like they have your undivided attention, they’ll gladly spend more time conversing with you—and bringing up personal topics helps build camaraderie. So if you find yourself at a loss for words when meeting new people, don’t fret: just let them do most of the talking!
Use open-ended questions
Instead of asking yes-or-no questions that can be answered with one word, use open-ended questions (those that require more than one sentence) to keep a conversation going. Open-ended questions are great for getting people talking—and their answers will give you plenty of new information about them and what they care about. Before you jump into a conversation, stop and consider what you’re going to say. This will help keep you from entering sticky territory or rambling.
Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not
If you want someone to keep listening, let your personality shine through. Don’t pretend you’re someone else (and don’t fake laughter). No one likes someone who puts on airs. No matter how fascinating you think your job or hobby is, keep it real and don’t go overboard trying to impress people with it. Let your actions speak for themselves so that others can see what you’re truly like. This can help them connect with you on a more personal level. Honesty is always more interesting than pretending to be something that you’re not.
When you find yourself in an engaging conversation, you’ll want to make sure that you take time and space to hear your counterpart out. Resist any urge to interrupt them—just because they have paused doesn’t mean they’re done talking! It may be best to scribble down their last few points so that you can refer back to them when it comes time for your turn again. Conversations are built on giving and take. The same holds true for group conversations—participating ensures that you have time and opportunity to contribute as well as receive input from others.
Stay on topic
A surefire way to keep any conversation going is, in fact, by staying on topic. If you’re at a loss for words, come back to whatever it was that brought you here in the first place. Maybe you met your partner’s brother-in-law last night and started chatting about his kids; bring up those kids again later today when you speak with your partner.
Ask follow-up questions
Asking follow-up questions is one of your best tools for keeping any conversation alive. Your job is to keep asking questions—and then take notes on what you hear. As long as you’re listening, you can keep talking and learning more about your prospect (and growing your pipeline).
If you ask someone a question and they pause before answering, just be patient. Let them finish their thought, or try another tactic. After all, great conversationalists are adept at not only listening but also taking what they hear and asking more questions—some related to what was just said, some that may veer off on another tangent entirely. Don’t be afraid of silence: Great conversationalists aren’t afraid of pauses in conversation.
Things to avoid saying in a conversation
There are a few things you should avoid saying if you want to keep the conversation going. For one, stay clear of controversial topics like religion and politics. You don’t want to start an argument or offend the other person. Another thing to avoid? Making snap judgments about people or their lifestyles. You never know what someone’s been through, so it’s always best not to say anything until you know more about them. Lastly, try not to be too negative. Nobody wants to talk to someone who’s always negative and downbeat. Keep things light and cheerful, and you’ll be sure to keep the conversation going strong!
How to end a conversation
Ending a conversation can be just as tricky as keeping one going. You don’t want to seem rude or disinterested, but you also don’t want the conversation to drag on forever. Here are a few tips to help you end things on a positive note:
- Thank the other person for their time
- Mention an upcoming event or task that will keep you from talking any longer
- Say that you need to go and get ready for bed/work/an appointment
- Offer to continue the conversation in another setting or over email
Tips for shy people
If you’re feeling shy, try to focus on the other person and what they’re saying. This will help you to engage more and make the conversation more fluid. Another thing to keep in mind is that there’s no need to have all the answers. In fact, the most interesting conversations are the ones where both people are learning new things. So don’t be afraid to ask questions and explore different topics. And lastly, don’t forget to smile! It’ll make you feel more relaxed and help to put the other person at ease.
Keeping a conversation going can be difficult, but it’s important to remember that everyone is human and everyone makes mistakes. Just relax and have fun with it – the more you talk to people, the easier it will get. And don’t forget to smile!