I've always been the type who feels tongue-tied on walking into a roomful of people or on meeting somebody new. It isn't funny really; I mean there you are, face to face with a completely amenable looking person, whose face for some reason seems like a blank mask, and your brain just freezes, wondering what on earth to say. Well, to overcome this obvious drawback in my personality, I decided to hone up on some fail-proof conversation techniques. I tried and tested them, and you can take it from me, they actually do work. Here they are:
Being funny is practically a foolproof way to break the ice, lighten things up, and get everybody talking. Everybody loves laughing, and there is nothing like laughter to make people begin feeling comfortable. Of course, that doesn't mean you need to do a Jack Benny- or Jay Leno-like stand up routine, all that's required is narrating something funny that may have happened to you, and you'll be surprised at how people warm up to you.
Make People Comfortable
One of the best ways to begin talking is to show that you really care and are interested in people, and in what they have to say. You can nudge them gently by starting off on some topic and then allow them to take over. However, you need to watch out that you do not invade personal space. If standing and talking, give them enough room as breathing space, but stand close enough to show that you are attentive and to form a bond. People are usually really happy talking to you if they feel comfortable with you.
Use Open-ended Questions
Open-ended questions are those that need to be answered at length, and not by just a yes or no. This allows people to elaborate on something - usually on a topic they have in-depth knowledge in, thus, creating conversation. This is one of the best ways of drawing people out and getting them comfortable in joining a conversation. However, see that you don't over-do it. Asking too many questions can seem as if you are grilling them. While good questions do stimulate conversation, you need to mix it up with a few self-revelations and observations, so that it doesn't become a one-way street.
Make Small Talk
Although most conversation purists belittle small talk as being boring, lowbrow, or even phony, it is usually one of the most effective ways for getting the conversation going. Later, more intellectual topics can be introduced into the conversation. How to make small talk? It's quite easy, actually. Keep abreast of what's going on in the world, country, and community. Or you could say something relating to the moment, such as the event or venue: theme, food, traffic, parking, host, and yes, why not the lousy weather?
Pick A Topic Everybody Can Talk About
Find something common and set the conversational ball rolling. There are so many things really that will get people off: a recent movie in the news, pet peeves, some antics of a celebrity, a book, diet, or exercise routine everybody is talking about. You can begin, for instance, by talking about this new diet you have been on and watch how everybody will have something to say about it.
These tips should go a long way to making you savvy at getting the conversation going in any situation you might find yourself in.