Fake It Til You Make It - How To Use Conversation Starters When You Are Afraid

Published: 31st August 2012
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Conversation starters are easy to come up with. Don't be anxious or nervous. You won't need to think of questions before you go. Consider this. Beginning conversations do not need to be hard. They should be sincere and calm. These skills will put you on the path to conversation success.

First off, in situations where you are meeting new people, remember to introduce yourself by walking up to them with a smile and your hand extended. Don't worry; this will encourage them to engage with you. Once you have physical contact, the rest flows very naturally. The key is to remember pace your introduction. Use pauses to let the other person hear and process what you are saying.

Your introduction should go something like this: "Hello (pause for a couple of seconds). My name is (pause for a second) Roger. (Pause again). And you are? (pause, look at them and smile again).

You should've let their hand go by now and they will be answering you. So, listen carefully for their name and use it right off. This is how you remember other people's names. You might respond like this: "Nice to meet you, John."

The next set of conversation starters is based on that list of simple topics mentioned earlier. What topic you choose is largely dependent on the type of social occasion. If you are at a networking meeting, you may want to use topics like:

- Work the other person does

- The surroundings

- The speakers

A more relaxed occasion? Then use topics like these:

- Vacations they have been on

- Favourite books (if they like reading)

- Movies

- Best restaurant

No matter what your conversation starter topic is about, get used to using open questions around the topic. Remember to ask the question in a relaxed way and listen to what the other person says. Their answer will lead to more opportunities to ask other open questions. Here are some examples:

- Where was the last place you went on vacation?

- Where do you plan on going for your next vacation?

- If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

- What countries have you traveled to?

- What was your worst vacation experience?

Simple, isn't it? Asking friendly questions where there are no simple 'yes 'and 'no 'answers are easy to ask. In the case of vacations - who wouldn't be eager to tell you of their experiences in Europe on their grand tour or perhaps a wilderness adventure in Alaska? "How to start a conversation?" need not be a difficult question. In fact, your conversation success is guaranteed.

As you can easily see, each of these questions is a natural follow-on from the previous question. There is no special talent involved here. It is just a natural progression of questions that can open up lots of possibilities. The knack is to ask questions that are difficult to answer with one word. If this does happen to you, don't worry. Just ask another question. Make sure your questions begin with what, where, if you could, and so on.

So, when to tell them something about yourself? Wait until they ask. And if they don't. Only talk about yourself when you feel like you have asked so many questions, it's getting uncomfortable. And how to talk about yourself? Well, that's easy. Just find a related experience and only talk for a sentence or two, followed up with - you guessed it - another open, related question.

Have you ever noticed that this kind of face-to-face conversation is the key to unlocking social confidence? Yes, conversing is a skill-- some would call it an art - that can be easily learnt. It is truly an ability that is yours for the taking, with just a little effort to learn the techniques.

People who learn these skills find it much easier to make new friends wherever they go. Isn't this a goal worthy of a little effort? And a little effort is all that it takes to become truly confident in making yourself over into a person who can effortlessly engage in interesting conversations no matter what the circumstances are.


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