It is not surprising many people do not know how to start a conversation. As little children we were taught the very basic rule for safety: Never talk to strangers. The rule does not apply to us adults anymore, yet studies show that the second greatest social fear is starting and carrying a conversation with strangers.
Often times, we find it horrifying to be trapped in front of a stranger or even to people we have already met once or twice or numerous times. It is one of those social horrors and almost all of us have been there. We want to start a meaningful conversation. We want to break the silence. But we find starting a conversation a nerve wracking task. Here are simple techniques for starting a conversation. The following have been tested and are found to have brought the first rule of childhood to a close.
1. Start with the introduction basics. It is the basic conversation starter and we must remember to do it right.
– A younger person is introduced to an older person.
– A man is introduced to a woman.
– A less important person is introduced to a VIP.
Say the name of the person who is older, the woman and the VIP – in that order.
2. Make it a skill to remember names. Nothing is more embarrassing than getting caught trying to remember a name of a person who had been introduced to you several times. Here are some helpful tips to recall names:
a. Listen as the person gives you his/her name.
b. Study the business card of the person to help implant the name in your memory.
c. Repeat it several times during the first few minutes of the conversation.
d. Use it when you introduce the person to others.
e. On another note, it is vital that you use the name of the person as you make your rounds to say good-bye to everyone you met.
3. Look around you for things to talk about. Is there something familiar around, a painting, the jar, decors on the wall? These are good things to start a conversation with. But, if the place is so plain with no interesting background, try the food or the drinks as starting point.
4. Polish up your conversational style. Get updated with the latest hottest news – they provide good conversation starters. Even the latest in celebrity gossip or a piece of sensationalist scandal can break the ice. It is also still best to have current affairs and general knowledge at hand, because you just do not know the interests of the people that you will meet.
5.Bring your own conversation piece. Conversation pieces are things you can bring to a gathering or on a get-together where you believe you have less or no acquaintances at all. You could wear eye catching accessories like hats or jewelry that will catch the attention of other people, but make sure you have a story that goes with it. Sometimes it pays to be interesting.
6. Weave newcomers into the conversation. Introduce a person who joins in the group as soon as possible. Or allow the person ample opportunity to do so, as the case maybe. Make a quick review of the topic of the group for the benefit of the newcomer. Then ask a comment or an opinion from them.
7. Ask open-ended questions. Often times we are faced with one-word answers – yes and no. If you are the kind who is not yet comfortable in starting a conversation, this would be very disappointing. Always have two or three open-ended questions or statements reserved at all times.
8. Assume responsibility for starting a conversation, a simple hi! or how are you? are simple starters. Make sure that people will remember you after the event by their knowledge of fun they have shared with you.
Enjoy, all your efforts will pay off and soon to start a conversation will be as easy as breathing the air around.