These fundamentals will help you easily open a conversation and sustain it. On my website, www.lisabmarshall.com, I write about How to Start a Conversation and I give a long list of conversation starters by situation. Inc.com also has a helpful article on How to Start a Conversation with Absolutely Anyone. In addition, if you know you’re going to have a chance to speak to someone in particular, you may want to do a little research first, so you can discuss some common interest. Here are a few popular conversation starters:
- Compliment the person: "I like your (watch, necklace, etc.) Is it hand-made?” or “Where did you get it?” or “I bet there’s a story behind that.”
- Compliment a person who just did something, and have a follow-up question: “That was a great question you asked. What did you think about the answer?”
- Comment on the surroundings, offering an opening to start a discussion: “These hors d’oeuvres are delicious. Did you try the stuffed mushrooms?” And of course, you can always comment on the weather! It’s cliché, but it’s something we all experience at the same time and it’s a great conversation starter!
- Comment on the event: “How did you like the speakers so far? Who was your favorite?”
- Ask for advice or assistance: “Do you know how to read this subway map?” “I was looking at the list of speakers. Have you heard of any of them? Whom would you suggest?”
- Offer assistance (without being intrusive): “There’s an empty seat here, if you need it. It’s crowded, isn’t it?”
- Mention a mutual acquaintance: “Oh, you’re from accounting? Do you know Sean?”
- And of course, the old stand-by: “Hi, my name’s Lisa. Lisa B Marshall. It’s nice to meet you!”
Like everything else in life that’s worth doing, good conversation takes practice. But it’s well worth the effort, benefiting both you and every other person you talk to. So in conversation, as in all communication, remember the fundamental goals: to make a connection with the other person, to come to know and understand another person, and to make that person feel important. If you have these goals in mind, you will have no trouble starting, continuing, or ending a conversation. And your life will be more joyful for it.
This is Lisa B. Marshall helping you to lead and influence. If you'd like to learn more about compelling communication, I invite you to read my bestselling books, Smart Talk and Ace Your Interview, and listen to my other podcast, Smart Talk. As always, your success is my business.