Do people enjoy talking to you? Or do you leave them bored? Use these tips on how to hold a conversation and be the star attraction wherever you are.
When it comes to meeting new people, knowing how to hold a conversation is crucial. You may think you’re a really good conversationalist, but are you really?
You can’t really go through life without knowing how to hold a conversation. For basically everything you do, talking to people is essential. Getting a new job? You have to hold a conversation. Trying to meet someone new to date? You have to be able to talk in an engaging way.
Really, knowing how to keep the conversation going is extremely important. But there are plenty of us out here who just can’t. It’s hard. We don’t know what to say and keeping someone engaged long enough to get to know us is nearly impossible.
The bad conversationalist and the good one
A good conversationalist who can hold a conversation isn’t someone just knows how to speak well. This is a mistake many people make. They assume anyone who can talk can instantly hold a conversation together. And yet, sometimes, a quiet listener could be called a wonderful conversationalist too!
If you fall in love with your own voice, and can’t stop talking because you’re “so good at it”, it makes you a conversational narcissist, not a good communicator!
The next time you’re in a passionate discussion with someone, and feel like a real winner, because they gave up on the conversation, don’t assume that makes you great at holding the conversation. In fact, it’s moments like these that make people bad conversationalists!
What makes someone a good conversationalist?
What makes a good conversationalist is someone who knows to speak well. But at the same time, they also know how to listen well too. They can express themselves clearly. But they can also listen to the other person with empathy and interest. While they can bring their point across well, they can also take an opposing view without losing their cool or putting others down.
And of course, there’s so much more too!
Keeping someone interested isn’t as easy as it looks
Although some people are just born with a talent for talking, others have to work really hard at it. It’s a skill and not just something that comes naturally to everyone.
Take salesmen, for example, they think they’re really great at talking. But are they? When you come across a typical salesman, you’re usually more wary than open and accepting, because you assume they’re going to trick you into doing something you’re not sure of yourself.
But a really good salesman is someone who knows how to hold the conversation together. They can focus on what you want to say and make you feel heard, just as much as what they want you to listen.
If you get this balance wrong, you’d end up turning off anyone who spends time with you instead, of keeping them interested in you.
Holding a conversation takes practice and effort
Firstly, it all starts with empathy. And then, it takes practice and effort. If you want to know how to hold a conversation with anyone, you need to play attention, not just to yourself and what you say, but what others say and how you behave around them as well.
And that means, just like any skill you pick up, it takes time and effort.
The great thing about being able to hold a conversation is that there are a lot of benefits to knowing how to do it. Those benefits serve as powerful motivators. So let’s get straight to it, and you’ll know how to be a wonderful conversationalist and a talker in no time.
How to hold a conversation and keep the attention on you
No matter your reason for wanting to learn how to hold a conversation, the work will be the same. Depending on where you start, you’ll have to work a while in order to get it right. Here are our best tips for holding a conversation.
1. Introduce yourself well
If you’re being introduced to someone or a group of people, introduce yourself warmly and look around and make eye contact with each individual person. And then, you could just use a witty ice breaker if they’re all looking at you expectantly to say someone. Or you could just wait for someone else to say something. There’s no hurry to take centerstage immediately.
2. Approaching someone yourself?
Instead of walking up to someone and just telling them who you are, lead with a topic. You have to start with a conversation before you can hold it.
Otherwise, that person might look at you and question why you’re trying to talk to them in the first place. Just starting with your name isn’t valuable to them. You have to start with something that’ll engage them right off the bat.
3. Make it an interesting topic
Just like what was said above, this topic really has to draw them in. If they don’t really think it’s worth a discussion, they’ll get bored and eventually not want to talk. It makes holding a conversation a lot more difficult to start off with a great topic right away.
4. Connect the dots
There are a few things that connect all of us, and help us to get talking. Use them, and everything just gets easier from there. Remember these 5 basic conversation starters that work every single time!
a. The weather
b. The place you’re in right that moment
c. What do you do for work?
d. A mutual interest
e. Something interesting that’s happening around you
There are many other ways you can use to initiate and hold a conversation with someone. But if you can use any of these five starters, you’d be able to build a connection with the other person instantly. It’s current, they’re all relatable even if you have nothing in common with each other, and it’s light and easy to talk about.
5. Pick what catches their eye and talk about it
Once you connect with someone by asking any of the topics above, keep an eye on what makes them respond to you with enthusiasm. And then, talk about that connection.
People naturally want to talk to people they have a connection with. So you have to draw a connection between the two of you. It can be about anything, really. Make sure they know you have something in common and it’ll be easier to hold the conversation because they’ll be putting in the effort too.
6. Smile warmly and pay attention
The first thing to know about holding a conversation is to behave like you’re actually happy to be in the company of the other person. When you smile warmly and focus on them like there’s nothing more important to you than talking to them at that moment, it makes others feel happy to spend time with you.
7. Make sure your body language is inviting
You can’t sit there with your shoulders slumped and looking bored. Stand or sit up straight, like you’re actually interested in hearing what they have to say. Be sure your body is facing them, and that you’re focused on them.
The more easy-going you appear and the more interested in the discussion you look, the more they’ll pick up on these positive vibes, and want to keep talking to you.
8. Make good eye contact
This is an important part of learning how to hold a conversation. It’s mostly about being intrigued with them but also about forming a connection.
The more you look at someone in the eye, the closer you bond. Just don’t make the mistake of staring them down and freaking them out. Break eye contact at least once every 10 seconds or so when they’re talking to look away, but keep the focus around them.
9. Nod along
This is something most people just don’t use to max effect! If you genuinely agree with something someone is saying, what do you do? You nod along!
So how can you make someone believe you’re relating to them and giving them your full attention? Do the same thing. As they’re speaking, if you want to know how to hold a conversation, nod your head slowly and purposefully like you’re soaking in every word they’re telling you.
They’d be flattered to see you do this, and it would also give them the confidence to continue explaining their point.
10. Listen to others
You don’t have to start talking as soon as you’re introduced to someone or when you’re among a group of people. There are a few talkers who do this, and there’s nothing wrong with it. Maybe they want to dominate the conversation, or it’s just in their personality to want to be the cynosure of the room.
But almost always, instead of appearing interesting, these people come off as pompous or trying too hard to let others know they’re more “important”. You don’t have to do that.
Pay attention and listen to others and what they’re saying. When you’re great at something, you don’t need to rush in to prove how good you are. Your moment will come, and you will shine *and surprise everyone else too because no one would assume you hold such sway over your words!*
11. Don’t start talking with a contradiction
If you want to know how to hold a conversation with someone, remember that it’s a conversation, not a debate. You may have come across many people who love to contradict others. They assume contradictions are the easiest way to have a passionate conversation.
Debates may be great among friends who know each other well. But if you want to hold a conversation with someone new, it’s not the way to go.
A debate always makes one person feel stronger and powerful, and makes the other person feel weaker and annoyed. Unless you’re trying to put someone down, avoid picking a fight with them just to make yourself feel better.
12. Be open to accepting another person’s point of view
We live in a world where everyone has differing and opposing views. And just because you’re right doesn’t mean the other person is wrong. It’s your point of view, that’s all it is.
So if someone has another perspective or way of looking at something, that doesn’t make them wrong. If you want to know how to hold a conversation with someone, be open to accepting that different people can have opposing views, and neither may be wrong.
13. Don’t argue
People argue when they lose their cool. There’s literally no other reason for anyone to feel hot under their collar. So stop taking things personally in a conversation. It’s their view, and their view has no bearing on your life or your opinions.
14. Lift yourself, but without pushing someone down
You can explain yourself, without having to put someone down. You don’t have to be nasty or mean to get your point across. You don’t have to point out that someone else is wrong, and that you’re right. If you’re right, people around you will know that all by themselves. Allow people to see how graceful you are, whether you’re talking or listening.
15. Allow other people to express their point of view
Yes, yes, we all know how right you are, and how your point is going to shatter everyone else’s point of view in one fell sweep. BUT you know that. Others don’t know that yet. So be patient and allow other people to express themselves before you butt in. And if others do accept your views, don’t gloat about it.
Continue talking and listening graciously, instead of keeping count about who’s winning and who’s losing!
16. Ask open-ended questions
You can’t just ask any type of question. If they respond with “yes” or “no,” it doesn’t leave you with much to work with. You have to get them talking if you want to learn how to hold a conversation.
The more you get them talking, the more they’ll feel engaged in the conversation. That’ll make it a lot easier for you to keep it going and to actually have a deep discussion.
17. Be engaged yourself
If you want someone to want to continue talking to you, you have to give them a reason. Being engaged and actually paying attention yourself makes a huge difference. When the person thinks you care about what they have to say, they’ll want to talk more because you’ve made them feel important.
18. Involve everyone
If you’re talking among a group of people, and one of them appear bored, or it’s just you and someone else doing all the talking, make sure you involve others into the conversation. The whole point of knowing how to hold a conversation with people isn’t about droning on and on with your views.
Sometimes, the best thing you can do is turn to someone else who’s quiet and ask them for their point of view. Involve everyone around, and everyone will love you for it!
19. Have some ideas in mind to steer the conversation
You’ll run out of conversation topics if you don’t keep any in mind. That just happens sometimes. Clicking with the person naturally will help alleviate some of this but that doesn’t always happen right away.
So keep a list of different ideas in mind so you can keep the conversation going once it starts to fizzle out. If it gets to that point, you have to work hard to maintain an excited level of discussion so it won’t end completely.
20. Let the conversation carry on naturally
Sometimes, it just will. You don’t have to force it and you can just sit back and enjoy the conversation. Knowing how to hold a conversation has a lot to do with knowing when to just let it flow and when to put more effort in.
If things are just carrying on by themselves, let them. Don’t interrupt one topic just because you think you have to introduce the other ideas you had in mind.
21. Use humor fairly often
People enjoy the company of funny individuals. That means in order to keep the conversation going, you should throw in some humor. Make a few jokes and see where things go. The more they enjoy having you around, the easier it’ll be to hold the conversation.
22. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself
If you’re worried about keeping the conversation going, you won’t be fully immersed in it. You have to just relax and let things happen as they should.
The more you worry about it, the more that comes across to people, and you’ll be stiff and nervous. Those aren’t very approachable qualities and it’ll put people off. So have some confidence and just talk to people. Form connections and if the conversation is over, let it be over.
Figuring out how to hold a conversation with someone when you suck at it can be frustrating. Thankfully, these tips can help steer you in the right direction so you can capture anyone’s attention.