Small talk has life-changing consequences. If you know how to small talk you can make friends, network for business success, and successfully date and build relationships. However for many of us, we feel inadequate and unprepared to create conversation out of nothing with someone you may have never met before. That’s where the following 10 tips will help you master the art of making small talk.
1. Prepare – Before you head out to that party or interview, arm yourself with some small talk ammunition. What’s happening in the news? What’s interesting about the location where you’re meeting? What questions could you ask today to get the conversation started? What interesting or unique event happened to you recently that would make a good story in a conversation?
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2. Weather – Talking about the weather is always the old standby when you can’t think of anything else to say. “Are you enjoying the weather?”… “Think the rain will stop?”… “When do you think we’ll see the first snow?” Weather changes every day and we all have opinions about it, so you can never go wrong using weather as a small talk subject.
3. Act – You may feel like you’re the odd person out and you really don’t want to talk to all the strangers in this room, but these people don’t know what’s going on in your head. Become an actor. Imagine that you’re the coolest guy in the room and act like it. You will present a lot more personality and have fun doing it. Choose your persona and try acting the part.
4. Mental – Small talk is 5% mouth and 95% brain. Put your mental fears, doubts and insecurities in the closet, and choose to be a small talker. The reality is that most people don’t like making small talk, so when you step out and become a conversation starter, others will appreciate it and be drawn to you.
5. Compliment – A well-placed compliment is always welcome. Find something positive to say to the person you’re small talking with. ”I really like your necklace.” ”Your eyes are truly sparkling in this light.” “You have a very good interior decorating sense.”
6. Questions – The easiest way to start a conversation is to ask a question. “Have you worked here long?” “How do you know our host?” “Are you following football this season?” A natural question that fits the moment is a great way to break the ice.
7. Listen – The most neglected part of a small talk conversation is often active listening. We’re so busy trying to think up what we can say next that we neglect to actually stop and listen to the other person. If you listen closely, you will actually hear items that will naturally lead to your next question, statement or topic.
8. Practice – Have realistic expectations. You may not be a great small talker today, but with practice it will get easier and easier. As they say, practice makes perfect!
9. Humor – Don’t be so stressed and uptight, as that makes a stressed and uptight conversation. Have a sense of humor. Laugh at yourself. Tell a joke. At some point you’ll look back and laugh at even your worst experiences.
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10. Keep Trying – Let’s face it, not every small talk experience will be an amazing success. Sometimes you’ll speak with someone who is bad at carrying a conversation. Other times you’ll start talking with someone who has another agenda – they want to talk with someone else on the other side of the room, or they had a bad day at the office. But small talking is much like riding a horse – when you get thrown off, stand back up, dust yourself off, and climb on the horse again!