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Clever Tricks To Have A Conversation That Never Ends

Clever Tricks To Have A Conversation That Never Ends

We all understand what it feels like to be tongue-tied. We’ve all had that experience. Perhaps it was a friend who got too excited about The Game of Thrones—a show that’s got so viral but which you’ve never watched a second of. Or it could be a co-worker who kept talking about his recent trip to Berlin, and you just couldn’t think of anything interesting to say because you’ve never even been to Europe before.

You may feel bad about yourself. But the good news is: the solution to this is simple.

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Trick #1: Give short and simple responses. (Don’t underestimate their power!)

The truth is, on any given day, we have so many conversations with so many different people about so many different things, most people don’t even remember what they’ve said![1] What’s more, a lot of the conversations aren’t supposed to be meaningful in the first place. Which is why it’s okay to not know what to say, because, most likely, it doesn’t matter what you say, or if you say anything at all. The other person will probably forget it soon enough.

So, why do we talk so much if our conversations aren’t important? The reason is that we like to feel connected with one another, and chatting with people helps us understand each other. The purpose of having a conversation is, purely and simply, to keep the conversation going. You really don’t have to trouble yourself to come up with interesting or clever responses.

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For example, if your friend keeps bothering you with his favorite TV show, but you have absolutely no idea what to say about it, just say that you like to watch TV too but aren’t following the show he’s talking about (and maybe mention your own favorite show). You’re not trying to write a critique of TV shows, so it doesn’t matter if you have any insightful comments to contribute. Be comfortable chattering about nothing, and be happy that you’re spending time with a friend!

Trick #2: Listen to what the other says, and try to relate it to something else.

Another trick is to associate.[2] Look to the current conversation for inspiration, and talk about something else instead. It can be something that you find interesting or know about, but it doesn’t have to be related to what you’ve been talking about. Use your imagination. Digress. And move on.

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For instance, if your co-worker is sharing his travel experience in Berlin and you don’t know how to respond, try talking about something vaguely related. You can say something like: Berlin does sound amazing! I heard you can’t go to Berlin and not eat currywurst. But, hmm, it’s just sausage to me. By the way, do you know about that cool new hotdog stand right around the corner? …

Trick #3: Ask questions and let the other person talk more.

You can also try letting the other person do the talking. For instance, when someone talks to you about Gothic architecture but you know nothing about it, try replying with an enthusiastic ‘Interesting!’.[3] Ask for further details using open-ended questions,[4] e.g. What do you think about the Physics Building at our university then? It looks pretty old-school to me, but I’m not sure how it compares to the Gothic style of the Cologne Cathedral…

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This not only shows that you respect the other person, but also that you’re enjoying chatting with them. People will usually be happy that you’re interested in what they’re saying, and will want to share more with you. Remember, you goal here is just to keep the conversation going.

Trick #4: Share your little stories with others.

But if you really struggle with all of the above and end up in awkward silence, don’t panic: you can always share a little something about yourself.[5] You don’t have to worry about being judged or anything. As long as you don’t dig too deep or brag about yourself too much, people are usually willing to listen to you and are interested in what you say. Sharing some detail about yourself makes the other person feel that you trust them, and will make the conversation more pleasant for the both of you.

For example, open up about your pet, or the last time you cooked, or anything random. Then perhaps say one more detail about it, e.g. what colour is your pet fish, how much time it took you to chop all the vegetables, etc. Who knows, maybe they can relate to that, and will share with you their stories too!

Reference

More by this author

Wen Shan

Proud Philosophy grad. Based in HK.

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

When giving a presentation or speech, you have to engage your audience effectively in order to truly get your point across. Unlike a written editorial or newsletter, your speech is fleeting; once you’ve said everything you set out to say, you don’t get a second chance to have your voice heard in that specific arena.

You need to make sure your audience hangs on to every word you say, from your introduction to your wrap-up. You can do so by:

1. Connecting them with each other

Picture your typical rock concert. What’s the first thing the singer says to the crowd after jumping out on stage? “Hello (insert city name here)!” Just acknowledging that he’s coherent enough to know where he is is enough for the audience to go wild and get into the show.

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It makes each individual feel as if they’re a part of something bigger. The same goes for any public speaking event. When an audience hears, “You’re all here because you care deeply about wildlife preservation,” it gives them a sense that they’re not just there to listen, but they’re there to connect with the like-minded people all around them.

2. Connect with their emotions

Speakers always try to get their audience emotionally involved in whatever topic they’re discussing. There are a variety of ways in which to do this, such as using statistics, stories, pictures or videos that really show the importance of the topic at hand.

For example, showing pictures of the aftermath of an accident related to drunk driving will certainly send a specific message to an audience of teenagers and young adults. While doing so might be emotionally nerve-racking to the crowd, it may be necessary to get your point across and engage them fully.

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3. Keep going back to the beginning

Revisit your theme throughout your presentation. Although you should give your audience the credit they deserve and know that they can follow along, linking back to your initial thesis can act as a subconscious reminder of why what you’re currently telling them is important.

On the other hand, if you simply mention your theme or the point of your speech at the beginning and never mention it again, it gives your audience the impression that it’s not really that important.

4. Link to your audience’s motivation

After you’ve acknowledged your audience’s common interests in being present, discuss their motivation for being there. Be specific. Using the previous example, if your audience clearly cares about wildlife preservation, discuss what can be done to help save endangered species’ from extinction.

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Don’t just give them cold, hard facts; use the facts to make a point that they can use to better themselves or the world in some way.

5. Entertain them

While not all speeches or presentations are meant to be entertaining in a comedic way, audiences will become thoroughly engaged in anecdotes that relate to the overall theme of the speech. We discussed appealing to emotions, and that’s exactly what a speaker sets out to do when he tells a story from his past or that of a well-known historical figure.

Speakers usually tell more than one story in order to show that the first one they told isn’t simply an anomaly, and that whatever outcome they’re attempting to prove will consistently reoccur, given certain circumstances.

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6. Appeal to loyalty

Just like the musician mentioning the town he’s playing in will get the audience ready to rock, speakers need to appeal to their audience’s loyalty to their country, company, product or cause. Show them how important it is that they’re present and listening to your speech by making your words hit home to each individual.

In doing so, the members of your audience will feel as if you’re speaking directly to them while you’re addressing the entire crowd.

7. Tell them the benefits of the presentation

Early on in your presentation, you should tell your audience exactly what they’ll learn, and exactly how they’ll learn it. Don’t expect them to listen if they don’t have clear-cut information to listen for. On the other hand, if they know what to listen for, they’ll be more apt to stay engaged throughout your entire presentation so they don’t miss anything.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm4.staticflickr.com

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