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Start a Conversation with a Stranger without Sounding Desperate

Start a Conversation with a Stranger without Sounding Desperate
Start a Conversation
    Start a Conversation

    You are at the bookstore, and you suddenly glimpse an attractive person near you in the same aisle. You would love to initiate conversation but you don’t want to come off as cheesy, pushy, or desperate. You are not alone. Luckily, there are three very natural tactics to break the ice without sounding cheesy, pushy, or desperate.

    Ask a Help Question

    Try playing dumb. For example, next time you’re at a coffee shop with your laptop, you can ask anyone near you the innocent question, “Is your internet working? Mine seems really slow…” You may have the fastest internet connection in the world, but that doesn’t matter. Your sole mission is to start the conversation. If you successfully ignite a conversation, in the end, no one will care or remember how it started.

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    These help questions work well because they are safe and give you permission to pop the bubble that exists between strangers. The other person won’t feel awkward responding to something so innocent (and you won’t feel awkward asking!). Additionally, these questions are easy to answer. The last thing you want to do is force the other person to answer a challenging question.

    If they are interested in talking with you, you’ll know. If they respond with a terse, “Mine is fine” and look back down at their laptop, then you can take that as a closed door to conversation. If you receive a warm reception – even if they cannot help you – you have officially popped the bubble and are free to ask follow up questions. You could then follow up with, “Yours is? You’re lucky…maybe it’s just my computer… I really need to buy a new one…do you like your Toshiba?”
    You get the idea.

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    Let’s look at a few more examples. Remember, you may know the answer, but that’s not the point!

    At a convention or event: “This food looks good…do you think we can start eating yet?”
    Near a festival: “I wonder what’s going on down there?”
    Concert or convention: “Do you know when ____ is supposed to start?”
    In the city: “Do you know where I can find a Verizon store around here? Mine is giving me issues…”

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    What are You Thinking?

    If you prefer the more subtle route, you can try simple spoken out-loud comments. Next time you sit down in a public environment, trying saying something like, “Wow it’s cold in here…” or “I’m so glad this place has outlets…” Like the help question, these comments will never be remembered; they simply let others know that you are open to conversation. If someone else feels like talking as well, they will respond to your comment with their own comment (e.g. “Yeah, I was thinking that too.” or “Yeah I wonder if they are going to turn up the a/c anytime soon.”).

    Find an Accomplice

    What if you are not ready to fly solo? Sometimes it helps to find an accomplice for your ice breaking mission.

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    Go out with your friend, and start an interesting conversation near the stranger. Maybe you’re shopping for a shirt at your favorite retail outlet, and an attractive stranger is nearby. If you have an accomplice with you, then it’s natural to start a conversation about the shirt; talk about how you feel about it, how it looks, how much it costs, etc. It’s far easier to invite someone to join an existing conversation than to start from scratch. If you and your friend are debating whether to buy the tight red shirt versus the tight blue shirt, it’s a fairly easy segue to asking the stranger for their opinion.

    Talking to strangers doesn’t have to cause a panic attack if you keep the approach low-key and low risk.

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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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