When it comes to meeting new people, knowing how to hold a conversation is crucial. Here’s how you can make sure people enjoy talking to you.
You can’t really go through life without knowing how to hold a conversation. For basically everything you do, talking to people is essential. Getting a new job? You have to hold a conversation. Trying to meet someone new to date? You have to be able to talk in an engaging way.
Really, knowing how to keep the conversation going is extremely important. But there are plenty of us out here who just can’t. It’s hard. We don’t know what to say and keeping someone engaged long enough to get to know us is nearly impossible.
Keeping someone interested isn’t as easy as it looks
Although some people are just born with a talent for talking – like salesmen – others have to work really hard at it. It’s a skill and not just something that naturally comes to everyone.
And that means, just like any skill you pick up, it takes time and effort. The great thing about being able to hold a conversation is that there are a lot of benefits to knowing how to do it. Those benefits serve as powerful motivators. [Read: How to be funny and make people love your company]
How to hold a conversation and keep the attention on you
No matter your reason for wanting to learn how to hold a conversation, the work will be the same. Depending on where you start, you’ll have to work a while in order to get it right. Here are our best tips for holding a conversation.
#1 Start with a topic before introducing yourself. Instead of walking up to someone and just telling them who you are, lead with a topic. You have to start with a conversation before you can hold it.
Otherwise, that person might look at you and question why you’re trying to talk to them in the first place. Just starting with your name isn’t valuable to them. You have to start with something that’ll engage them right off the bat. [Read: 25 great conversation starters for when you’re drawing a blank]
#2 Make it an interesting topic. Just like what was said above, this topic really has to draw them in. If they don’t really think it’s worth a discussion, they’ll get bored and eventually not want to talk. It makes holding a conversation a lot more difficult to start off with a great topic right away.
#3 Connect what you’re talking about to the other person. You really have to focus on making connections. People won’t want to keep talking to you if they don’t think the information you have affects them in some way.
That means you have to make them care about what you’re telling them as if it impacts their lives. The best way to do that is to draw a connection from your topic to them. This also means asking questions.
#4 Ask open-ended questions. You can’t just ask any type of question. If they respond with “yes” or “no,” it doesn’t leave you with much to work with. You have to get them talking if you want to learn how to hold a conversation.
The more you get them talking, the more they’ll feel engaged in the conversation. That’ll make it a lot easier for you to keep it going and to actually have a deep discussion. [Read: 43 intellectual questions to spark smart talk with anyone]
#5 Be engaged yourself. If you want someone to want to continue talking to you, you have to give them a reason. Being engaged and actually paying attention yourself makes a huge difference. When the person thinks you care about what they have to say, they’ll want to talk more because you’ve made them feel important.
#6 Have some ideas in mind to steer the conversation. You’ll run out of conversation topics if you don’t keep any in mind. That just happens sometimes. Clicking with the person naturally will help alleviate some of this but that doesn’t always happen right away.
So keep a list of different ideas in mind so you can keep the conversation going once it starts to fizzle out. If it gets to that point, you have to work hard to maintain an excited level of discussion so it won’t end completely. [Read: 20 intriguing conversation ideas to keep the discussion going]
#7 Make a connection to them yourself. People naturally want to talk to people they have a connection with. So you have to draw one between the two of you. It can be about anything, really. Make sure they know you have something in common and it’ll be easier to hold the conversation because they’ll be putting in effort, too.
#8 Make sure your body language is inviting. Meaning, you can’t sit there with your shoulders slumped and looking bored. Be sure your body is facing them, you’re making eye contact, and you’re smiling.
The more easy-going you appear and the more interested in the discussion you look, the more they’ll want to keep talking to you. They’ll pick up on those positive vibes and will want to keep talking to you.
#9 Make good eye contact. This is really an important part of learning how to hold a conversation. It’s mostly about being intrigued with them but also about forming a connection. The more you look at someone in the eye, the closer you bond. Just don’t make the mistake of staring them down and freaking them out. [Read: How to look someone in the eyes without looking like a creep]
#10 Let the conversation carry on naturally. Sometimes it just will. You don’t have to force it and you can just sit back and enjoy the conversation. Knowing how to hold a conversation has a lot to do with knowing when to just let it flow and when to put more effort in.
If things are just carrying on by themselves, let them. Don’t interrupt one topic just because you think you have to introduce the other ideas you had in mind.
#11 Use humor fairly often. People enjoy the company of funny individuals. That means in order to keep the conversation going, you should throw in some humor. Make a few jokes and see where things go. The more they enjoy having you around, the easier it’ll be to hold the conversation. [Read: 20 signs you’ve mastered the art of a dry sense of humor]
#12 Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. If you’re worried about keeping the conversation going, you won’t be fully immersed in it. You have to just relax and let things happen as they should.
The more you worry about it, the more that comes across and you’ll be stiff and nervous. Those aren’t very approachable qualities and it’ll put people off. So have some confidence and just talk to people. Form connections and if the conversation is over, let it be over.
Figuring out how to hold a conversation when you suck at it can be frustrating. Thankfully, these tips can help steer you in the right direction so you can capture anyone’s attention.