It’s one thing to overcome your shyness and talk with ease; it’s another to actually say something interesting. Unfortunately, there are a lot of very talkative and sociable people who are also extremely boring. They talk too much, or say nothing worth remembering. People see them coming and think, ‘Uh-oh,’ and either move away or politely stay but tune them out completely.
Here are some ways to be a great conversationalist—someone who not only speaks with confidence, but with substance.
1. Don’t drown them in details
If you’re telling someone a story or just trying to make a point, then remember this golden rule: edit yourself. Bring up only the most important points, and forget the details that add no real information/humor/substance. Just think about all the stories your parents or grandparents ever told you about their childhood, down to the names of their neighbors and the dress they wore.
2. Wait for the answer
Good conversationalists know how to ask questions—it shows the other person that you’re interested in getting to know them. Great conversationalists wait for the answers. Don’t jump into the next question (or worse, your own anecdote) without letting him talk. And of course, don’t interrupt. This is one of the most annoying habits of social morons—they never really care what the other person has to say.
3. Choose your battles
You don’t always have to correct the other person or jump in with your own, opposing point of view. If it’s not that important to you, let it slide. Constant contradiction will annoy him and make you come across as a know-it-all.
4. Speak well of others
They say all stories need a hero, and that’s true. But the hero doesn’t always have to be you. Talk about other people’s accomplishments, and you will make a better impression than if you had spent the whole conversation just talking about yourself.
5. Choose common ground
Great conversationalists are able to find something in common with almost everyone they meet. That’s why it’s important to be well-read or at least updated on current trends and news. This will give you a treasure trove of facts and topics that you can speak intelligently about.
However, don’t pretend to know something you don’t! If you find yourself part of a conversation on, say, 18th century art, and you are absolutely clueluess, then laugh and say; ‘You know, I don’t know much about that, but I’d love to know more about it. Tell me something about it.’
6. Avoid superlatives
Stop saying ‘It’s the best!’ or ‘that’s the worst’ or ‘that’s the most amazing dress I’ve seen!’ – unless it actually is. You’ll come across as ditzy—and when you think about it, those superlatives don’t really sustain a conversation for long. If you pay a compliment, make it sincere and concrete: ‘That movie had its great points. My favorite scene was…’ This gives the conversation more momentum, since the other person can now use that as a takeoff point for his own observations or insights.
Photo from you-can-teach-writing.com