Not everyone is born with the gift of gab. But being able to strike up a conversation is a very important life skill. It is important in terms of personal relationships. Every friendship and love affair has to start with a first conversation. In terms of business, being able to open a conversation is also quite important, especially for individuals who are in sales. In fact, being able to start up conversations is so important, that entire books and seminars are devoted to this very subject.
The most important thing about starting a conversation is to be as natural and relaxed as possible. If you seem nervous or uncomfortable, it is likely that you will make the other person feel the same way, and that the conversation will either fall flat or feel awkward. So, before you approach someone to begin a conversation, take a deep breath and make sure that you have something to talk about. The best two topics to open a conversation with are the present situation and something regarding the person that you are approaching.
Here are some examples of conversation starters that have to do with the situation:
Conversation starter in an academic setting: “I really like the books that we are reading, but I can’t help but notice that the professor picks his nose during the whole lecture. Have you noticed that as well?”
Conversation starter in a professional setting: “I saw that you were in the quarterly meeting last week. What did you think about George’s remark on what is happening in Singapore?”
Conversation starter at a bar, party, or other leisure spot: “What do you think of this music?”
Conversation starter in an academic or professional setting: “Your presentation was really great. Where did you come up with that idea?”
Conversation starter at a bar, party, or other leisure spot: “I noticed that you were carrying the latest issue of the New Yorker. Have you gotten to David Sedaris’ essay yet?”
In order to open a conversation, you will have to improvise so that your starter matches the circumstances. All of the conversation starters above were imagined for application in a specific setting. During the conversation, remember to pay attention to what the other person says and to respond in kind. Also, if it turns out that the person simply isn’t in the mood to chat for some reason, end the conversation gracefully.