How can I become a better conversationalist?

How can I become a better conversationalist?Conversation6


     While the shy person generally wants to be seen as friendly, he or she

     often has trouble making conversation right off the bat with a new

     acquaintance. Also, much of the nervousness associated with shyness stems

     from the fear of not being able to think of anything to say. So improving

     conversational skill can help relieve much of the anxiety commonly

     associated with shyness.

    My advice to the average person would be, “Give the other person a chance

     to speak!” To converse means to exchange thoughts and opinions. Conversing

     is not lecturing; it’s an exchange. However, since most shy people’s

     problem is not one of talking too much, but too little, my advice to them

     is exactly the opposite: you must make a hobby of thinking of things to

     talk about, of constantly storing up conversational subjects for later  use.

     It is often helpful to try to think up potential conversational topics in

     advance of situations in which you know that some conversation may be

     appropriate. Constantly consider how the people and activities going on

     around you could be good topics for conversation. At odd moments

     throughout the day, imagine yourself running into new acquaintances and

     the subjects you could discuss with them.

     What about getting someone to talk about his or her pet interests? In

     this case, you will increase your edge if you know something about the

     subject under discussion. Read magazines and the newspaper.

     It has been said that the best conversationalists know a little about a

     lot of things. Of course, it is impossible for you to have personal

     knowledge about everything. But the human mind is a vast storehouse of

     knowledge. You will find that you can relate to almost every subject if

     you apply the following techniques.

  1. Ask Questions (obviously)!
  1. Think of someone else you know who relates to the subject. For example,

        if you meet somebody who’s in, say, the military and you have a

        friend or a cousin who is as well, this is a great common ground for


  1. Bring up something you’ve read on the subject (this is where all that

        reading comes in handy).

  1. Bring up something that you have personal knowledge about that relates to

        subject under discussion. For example, say the other person’s joy in life

        is skiing. You’ve never done any of that, but you have enjoyed ice

        skating. These two activities are similar enough that you may find you

        have much common ground for discussion.

     The more conversation you have with people, in fact, the better

     conversationalist you will become. This is true for two reasons: first,

     you get more practice at conversing. Second, and less obviously, the more

     people you know, the broader will be your range of contacts and shared

     knowledge, and therefore, the more subjects you will be able to

     indirectly relate to.

     Remember that first impressions are important, and the first conversation

     you have with each new person you meet will set the stage for the future

     relationship. Therefore, when you are introduced to someone you expect to

     meet again, you should do the following things:

  1. Learn that person’s name.
  1. Enter into a conversation with that person, and focus the conversation

        on that person.

  1. Remember the facts that came out about the person in the initial

        conversation. This is extremely valuable, as it will ease much of the

        difficulty of thinking of things to say in future conversations.

        For example, in subsequent conversations you can ask about the other

        person’s children, hobbies, interests, and any other facts that came out

        in the prior conversation. Therefore, cultivating a good memory about

        people will make you a better conversationalist and will ease much of

        the fear about what to say to people in subsequent meetings. If you

        apply this technique successfully, you will also never have to worry

        about running out of things to talk about, as the previous conversation

        will always suggest new lines of discussion for the current




I hope you will find this site as a go-to resource on how to start, keep going and stop any conversation you can think of having.  I hope you will find the articles, suggestions and tips valuable enough to visit here as much as you’d like.

Feedback is valuable to me, so I can post what you would like to learn about.

Dennis Hickey






Ice-breaking tools-find out what motivates people.

Typical motivators:

  • Personal power
  • Feeling important
  • Recognition
  • Social approval
  • New experiences
  • Love
  • Emotional security

The list implies that people want to make a personal connection, to feel comfortable and to be noticed.

What do you have in common with these people?  Unusual clothes, hats, jewelry and body language.  Surroundings such as books, statuary, furniture, and social things like food, size of crowd, energy level, etc.

Other topics for conversation:

  • Nostalgia-good memories of the past
  • Favorites-books, restaurants, movies
  • How to-e.g. deal with stress, make time to exercise, etc.
  • Common ground-both drinking coffee, in same building, in same line


This is my first_______.  How do you do______.

How did you get involved in this line of work?

Do you have any tips on letting go of tension?

Keep a file of interesting topics, openers, and funny stories.



  • O-open your body language for your approach
  • D-deliver a wide-open and fast-paced grand opening
  • E-emphatically listen
  • S-share your ideas generously

Active listening:

  • Sit or stand with an open, accepting posture
  • Look at the speaker
  • Stand straight
  • Ask for more information
  • Center questions on the speaker…Do you think, what would you advise
  • Respond to the speaker, repeat something you’ve heard


  • Sum up and show appreciation
  • Explain next step, if there is one
  • Shake hands and leave