5 Tips for Better Conversations

Inspired by a reader question, The Public Speaker describes the top 5 tips for making conversation.  

Lisa B. Marshall
4-minute read
Episode #222

Tip #3: Be Interested in Your Conversation Partner

Show a genuine interest in the other person and what they do.  Even if you have no real interest in their field, use the conversation as an opportunity to learn and expand yourself.  My father was a master at this skill.  He could talk to anyone about anything. He'd often ask probing questions, exploring deeper and deeper, drawing out the person's enthusiasm for the topic even more.  People loved my Dad for the genuine interest he showed in others. 

The secret to moving from conversation to building a relationship is to find commonalities, similarities, and positive traits, and then express them.

Tip #4: Find Commonalities 

The secret to moving from making conversation to building a relationship is to find commonalities, similarities, and positive traits between yourself and the other party, and then express them.  That is, find a way to genuinely like your conversation partner—even if you find it tough to like that person.  I'm not suggesting you fake it or make stuff up.  But by being sincerely interested in another person's words, they will in turn reciprocate that respect and interest in you.   

Tip #5: Some Conversations Will Be Awkward

Conversation-making can at times be awkward, but you can't let that discourage you.  At the same event I mentioned previously, I walked up to someone and tried to introduce myself.  I tripped over my words and sounded  like an idiot—worse, there I was saying I was an expert in communication!  The person gave me a curious look and asked, "Who do you use for your accounting?" I stumbled yet again with my response. He simply handed me his business card, extended his hand to shake mine, and said, "Well, it was nice to meet you."  I was officially brushed off!  Needless to say, this was the moment I fled to the lobby to consider leaving the event.  

The point is, even when you know how to make a great conversation, sometimes it just doesn't come out the way you planned!  And that's Ok.

Mathew, I can't resist one final tip—a bonus tip—because it's the key to successful conversation:  

Bonus Tip: Be Yourself

Don't be afraid to be yourself.  Some people will like you, others may not.  But I've found that being comfortable in your skin (no matter how odd that skin may be) is a quality that others admire and are attracted to.  So in every conversation, allow your personality show through.  Let others in on who you are and what makes you tick.  

Mathew, you are not alone in wanting to understand how to make better conversations.  In fact, it is such a commonly asked question that I devoted an entire chapter to it in my book, Smart Talk.  In the book, I talk about these ideas and have a lot more tips with much more detail.  I hope you'll consider purchasing my book.  It's a very small financial investment to learn skills that, once mastered, have a huge return —both in the strength of your relationships and in your income earning potential.  I wrote the book to help people like you become more successful. It was a way for me to have a conversation with people all around the globe. I'm hopeful that this information will also give you the confidence you need to make great conversations.  !

This is Lisa B. Marshall, The Public Speaker.  Helping you lead, influence, and inspire through better communication. Your success is my business.  

Conversation image courtesy of Shutterstock.


About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall

Lisa B. Marshall Lisa holds masters with duel degrees in interpersonal/intercultural communication and organizational communication. She’s the author of Smart Talk: The Public Speaker's Guide to Success in Every Situation, as well as Ace Your Interview, Powerful Presenter, and Expert Presenter. Her work has been featured in CBS Money Watch, Ragan.com, Woman's Day, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and many others. Her institutional clients include Johns Hopkins Medicine, Harvard University, NY Academy of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Genentech, and Roche.