In a hurry to punch up your conversation skills for an impromptu business meeting or a party you got invited to at the last moment? Never fear. Here are six quick tips to remember to get your conversation skills off to a fast start.
EYE CONTACT – This is crucial. Maintain eye contact. Don’t let your eyes, and with them your interest, wander, or your conversation will soon come to a halt. Also, in many subtle ways you can let your eyes do the talking for you. They show your interest, they can convey empathy or mild disagreement, they are often better tools to communicate than your lips.
OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS – Use open-ended questions to keep momentum, and the conversation, rolling along. Nothing kills a conversation more quickly than a flat, dry statement of fact or a question that requires only a one-word answer. Pretend in your head that you are a journalist, trying to find out about the other person. Remember, almost everyone enjoys talking about themselves, whether they admit it or not. Keep the questions rolling, and the conversation is sure follow.
OBSERVE YOUR ENVIRONMENT – One of the most crucial conversation skills to master is the observation of the environment that you and your conversation partner share. Find some common element to discuss, something that could possibly relate to the both of you.
BODY LANGUAGE – Keep it tight, keep it open. Never cross your arms, stand upright, square your shoulders and never slouch. If sitting, keep erect with your back straight. Never slump over.
PAY ATTENTION – Be sure to focus on listening to your counterpart, do not just wait for an opportunity to talk. Really grasp what they try to tell you and reply thoughtfully to their insights, comments and questions. Hold up your end of the conversation.
FIND YOUR HUMOR – Everyone has a sense of humor. Even you. Find out your humorous strengths and employ them. Nothing breaks the ice like a humorous observation, or a corny but tasteful joke. Study what makes you and other people laugh if you want to be funnier. But be extremely careful here. Never make fun of your conversation partner, and try to avoid other people in the immediate vicinity (because you never know for sure who your partner may be friends with).
Follow these six quick-start steps to shore up your conversation skills, and you’ll be off and running in no time!