CAREER ADVANCEMENT / AUG. 31, 2015
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4 Tips for Becoming a Great Conversationalist

If you want to become a great conversationalist, you need to love talking. There’s no getting around that fact. You must be interested in what other people have to say.  You only need to let go and have fun when in the company of other people and hold people’s attention while you regal them with interesting stories. Feed off of the energy in the conversation when you listen to the other person share stories, opinions and ideas. Do you want to balance the art of being an effective listener and communicator as you enhance your conversation skills? Let’s take a look at four tips for becoming a great conversationalist.

See Also: How to Navigate Difficult Conversations at Work

1. Have Something Interesting to Say

Let’s be real. Great conversationalists are interesting people who have thought-provoking opinions and ideas to share. They are usually not boring people. Now, you may not be someone who has climbed Mt. Everest and you think that you can never become a great conversationalist. However, you can be the Average Joe who simply has learned how to grow and develop as a person—and is able to share thoughts and opinions in a clear and interesting way to others. Great conversationalists know themselves and their own abilities and are able to share their positive experiences which have been learning opportunities.

Motivate your listeners by sharing relevant information that will inspire them to ponder what you said. Be so thought-provoking that the person you’re conversing with leaves the conversation truly satisfied with the exchange. You want to be so interesting that you become unforgettable during your conversations. When discussing increasing creativity in the workplace, share stories you relate to. Talk about how your company has been innovative in creating a stellar break room where employees can socialize and interact. Describe how social interaction has resulted in sparking more creativity in the workplace, or  how you benefited from that unrestricted contact with colleagues. By doing all these, you will engage the person further into the conversation when you share such an interesting workplace story.

2. Balance Your Information Output

You need to balance your information output. Understand that having a meaningful conversation with someone is not simply sharing only all about you. The world does not revolve around you, after all. You must balance your information output with the actual conversation content you’re receiving. Great conversationalists know how to balance communication with active listening. You may be an interesting person and have a lot to offer others, but don’t dominate the conversation. You’ll only end up looking like a conversation hog, not a great conversationalist.

You need to actively listen to the other person without ignoring their actual words. Active listeners would be able to repeat back to the other person what they specifically said. If you couldn’t repeat back correctly, you weren’t actively listening. Great conversationalists don’t act like robots and repeat back what the person said. They simply could if they needed to. You need to effectively hear what someone is saying. Process that information. Respond accordingly. If someone at a networking event talks to you about their recent trip to Bali, don’t ignore their words and start talking about the guest speaker. Not only is that rude, it’s also a violation of the etiquette of a great conversationalist. Value individuals and pay attention to what they have to say.

3. Ask Fun & Engaging Questions

Woman asking questions
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Be positive and productive in your conversations. Create an atmosphere where you both exchange ideas and are actively engaged in the process. Learn how to ask fun and engaging questions. Bring some excitement to the conversation so that the other person actually enjoys participating in it. Demonstrate your enthusiasm in participating in the conversation. That will show on your facial expressions, in your body language, and in your tone of voice. Your behavior will help the other person to be more engaged and pulled further into the conversation. Great conversationalists know how to keep the conversation going. It is fun and cultivates a symbiotic approach to the exchange of information.

When speaking, ask engaging questions that will keep the other person interested in responding to you. Don’t simply ask a question that will elicit a yes or no response. Where can the conversation go from there? It can go nowhere fast! Focus on asking questions that need further elaboration. The questions should cause the person to think so they provide an insightful response. By constructing a response that this person needed to process in their brain first, they will become more invested in the conversation; the daydream factor will evaporate. This person won’t try to figure out a way to escape your grasp. If you are at a networking event, don’t simply ask if this is their first time at the event and continue in the vein of similar questions seeking one-word responses. Ask them why they decided to attend the event. Ask how they got connected to the network. Those types of questions can open up further avenues for discussion.

4. Create a Positive Lasting Impression

If you want to become a great conversationalist, you need to know how to make a good first impression. Keep that positive impression alive throughout the conversation and end on a positive note. If you did your job the right way, an amazing thing will happen when you leave the conversation. The other person will be left pondering the content. They will be awed by the interesting and enjoyable time they had during the entire exchange. A positive and lasting impression was made. This person will remember you as the great conversationalist. Imagine the positive effects a great conversationalist can have. Even years later, this person may recall a key fact, or inspirational statement spoken during that conversation. This recollection can inspire the person to keep going and developing in their career or personal life.

Cement that lasting impression by ending the conversation on a positive note. Validate the other person as a productive participant in the informative exchange of ideas, thoughts and opinions. Say something like it was a pleasure speaking with you and I enjoyed our discussion. You can make a specific reference to a key aspect of the discussion. The person will be validated, knowing that you were actually listening to the crux of the conversation. Say that you hope to see or hear from this person again. You want to continue to add value to the other individual.

See Also: 5 Ways to Escape an Awkward Conversation

You may still think that some people simply have the natural charisma and gift of being a great conversationalist. That may be true in some cases, but the art of having excellent conversations can be learned. You need to get to know yourself better. Find out why you are an interesting person. You may not think that you are, but we all have something interesting about ourselves that can be shared with others. Become an active listener. Balance your information output.

Stop yourself from speaking too much and listen to what the other person is actually saying. Bring some fun energy to the conversation; don’t be boring and drone on. Ask engaging questions that spark interesting answers. Create that lasting impression that will make the other person remember you long after the conversation has finished and make this person wish they could continue speaking to you because they feel so valued by your interest in them.

Are you a great conversationalist? If not, have you ever tried to develop the art of having excellent conversations with others?

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