Updated: Nov 30, 2022
Do you recall ever being a part of a conversation that was so dull it made you want to pull your hair out? Have you ever felt the sting of shame as you realized you were the reason for the utter boredom of a conversation?
Even the most eloquent of communicators can lose their mojo from time to time, and it's not just you. Particularly true in the field of sales, where the ability to hold a conversation is strongly linked to one's performance.
After all, if you can't hold someone's interest for thirty seconds, you probably won't be able to count on closing many transactions. You need to hone your ability to keep a conversation engaging, but how?
The solution, like with most things, is to just put in the time. The good news is that there are plenty of chances to practice having discussions that are intriguing, sincere, entertaining, and engaging.
Inquire as to the status of a customer service representative's day. Get to know your fellow diners and find out what everyone recommends ordering. Get the lowdown on the mechanic's go-to vehicle make and model, and his or her reasoning.
Some people may find it natural to go out and practice their social skills, while for others the idea may be terrifying. No matter where you stand, here are some practical suggestions for keeping the debate going.
Remember that this is a game, whether you're just starting out or currently at the top of your game. Also, those in sales who rely on engaging in conversation to make a living may find it worthwhile to put in the time and effort required to perfect their skills.
How to Have a More Engaging Conversation
It takes practice to become skilled in communication, just like any other art form.
You can improve your chances of success by studying and practicing good communication methods and by tailoring your outbound efforts to reflect the most recent data on sales calls, but a lot of what you do will ultimately determine how well you do.
Becoming a likable, reliable, and engaging discussion partner is a skill you need to develop. To that end, we've compiled a list of eight guidelines to follow to ensure you become a great conversation partner and keep your talks engaging.
Concentrate on the other person in the conversation
It's human nature to like introspective discourse. You might be amazed at how much someone is willing to contribute when you turn the talk over to them and give them the floor.
Additionally, the more they communicate with you, the closer they will feel emotional.
However, this is not an excuse to be silent. As a matter of fact, that would have the reverse effect of refreshing things and leading to boring small talk.
Interject with brief stories of your own now and again to expand upon what the other person has spoken. Use inquisitive inquiries to prompt them to elaborate on their answers.
Always keep in mind that you're the one leading the discussion. As they continue talking, make sure to carefully steer the conversation in the way you want it to go. However, it's important to show genuine curiosity and attention to what they have to say.
It doesn't take long for people to detect when you're trying to impress them with your superiority or fake enthusiasm. One saying I like to keep in mind is, "Every day is a school day." If you go into every interaction with the intention of learning something new, you'll never find yourself bored.
Investigate shared experiences and common ground.
This may seem obvious, but it's easy to forget in the midst of a conversation, especially if it's progressing quickly.
During the course of any conversation, it's inevitable that topics of mutual interest will come up. Whenever this occurs, use it as an opportunity to bond over the shared experience.
Perhaps you're on the phone with a potential client setting up a time to demonstrate your power dialer software. Along the way, they reveal that you share their distaste for CRM administration.
Discuss that. Start digging! Find out what it is that bothers them about it. Don't be afraid to share the things you despise. Feel free to poke fun at the two of your misfortunes.
You've just discovered a shared interest that will help you get closer. You'll feel even closer to them by the time you've reached the part in the conversation where you're setting up the demo.
Tune in to the talk shows
Some of the best conversationalists are those who host late-night talk shows. They are employed specifically because of their engaging conversational skills, which are put to use night after night.
Talk show hosts, being hosts, ask lots of questions, sprinkle in-jokes, and keep the spotlight squarely on their guests throughout the chat. If you prefer something more serious, there are other shows that feature in-depth interviews with influential people.
In any case, pay attention to the host's and the guest's body language. Describe the tone they're employing when they speak. Do they have a distinct way of gesturing that they employ to convey meaning? Can you tell me how they're interacting with one another?
Watching TV is the assignment for tonight. If you're looking for a chuckle or some light conversation starters, these sales memes are sure to do the trick.
Reduce your speech rate and pronounce your words
While rapid speech isn't inherently negative, it can be difficult to understand for the listener. If you're not paying attention in conversations but are extremely well-versed in the topic at hand, you could talk so quickly that the other person gets dizzy trying to keep up.
You should intentionally lower your cadence until it feels nearly too slow. I assure you that if you do this, you will not be speaking too slowly, even though it may feel that way at first. The best way to get better at this is to record yourself or have a friend listen and provide constructive criticism.
In addition, it's crucial that you clearly articulate your remarks. Vocal warmups can help you get acclimated to pronouncing difficult words.
You'll be able to express yourself more quietly and confidently. People will be more interested in the discussion and what you have to say if you address their interests.
Pay Attention to what is being said
You have the ability to ask intriguing questions, speak with assurance, and engage others in stimulating discourse. Nonetheless, you will certainly fail if you don't pay attention to what they are saying.
Keep in mind that you should be yourself when talking to people. It's impossible to succeed if you're not paying attention.
The worst thing is when you start to zone out and the other person suddenly stops talking and stares at you expecting an answer.
There's no faster way to kill a sale than saying "I'm sorry!" in sales. ”. With the loss of that sale, your sales numbers will inevitably plummet as well.
Concentrate on what the other person is saying by tuning out distractions. Take notes if you find it useful to do so. Get creative and use any means necessary to keep the other person "in" the conversation with you.
Ask personal questions
Too much bland small conversation is boring and frustrating. Knowing the other person's supper plans can be intrusive at times.
When starting a discussion, it's a good idea to ask questions that will help you discover more about the people you're talking to.
Using the word "you" in your inquiries shows that you want to put emphasis on the other person.
For instance, you could ask: What do you do while you're not at work?
What is the one thing related to your job that you wish you could just wave a magic wand over and make go away?
Is this your first job in this industry (marketing, sales, product development, etc.), or have you worked in this field before?
Do you adore or despise Elon Musk?
To add some spice to the conversation, you can ask for the other person's opinion.
Which digital tool do they prefer using the most, if any? In what ways do they prefer to organize their time on the job? I was wondering if they could recommend any current books on business that they found particularly helpful.
After securing a meeting via cold calling, questions like these might prove invaluable to salespeople. These can demonstrate the prospect that you are genuinely interested in learning about them and laying the groundwork for a long-term relationship.
Related: Discover Your Core Values
Use open-end questions
When asking a question, you're doing it wrong if you expect a yes-or-no response. These are the kinds of inquiries that can put an abrupt end to any discussion.
You don't want to be in a position where you have to scramble to find ways to relaunch the conversation or figure out how to inject some newfound interest. You should instead focus on asking open-ended inquiries wherever possible.
Please don't ask, "How's your day been thus far?"
Ask instead, "What do you enjoy most about today?
When someone is talking, you might use the five classic journalism questions to learn more: who, what, when, why, and how.
Exactly who has brightened their day?
What changed today into such a great day?
I wonder if this kind of day has happened to them before.
For what reason do they consider today a nice day?
How can they guarantee that tomorrow will be just as nice as today?
Be careful with touchy subjects
Money, politics, and religion are the three topics that people avoid discussing the most. However, there will always be that one individual who is interested in discussing these topics with you.
It may be difficult to avoid discussing money and politics altogether in certain professional settings. Prepare a new topic of discussion in case someone brings up a sensitive issue or says anything that makes you uneasy.
If the topic of conversation strays from your original intent, you can either jump in and try to redirect it, or you can have a few catchphrases ready to use to get everyone back on track.
To that end, you might say something like, "I appreciate you voicing your opinion there." I do apologize for the interruption, but I'd prefer to keep us on the course because we only have so much time to talk today.
Keep in mind, especially in business conversations, that your prospects have gone there to make a purchase. There's no need to be shy about pointing out the North Star.
Did you know that conversation is not just a necessary social skill, but also an art form in its own right? Conversational mastery involves going above and beyond basic conversational skills.
Learn to Communicate Like a Pro
If you've mastered the art of conversation, you're probably not only adept at using words to get what you want, but you're also a lot of fun to be around.
You can reach the point where your conversation partners will tell you they've enjoyed their time with you because of your skill at this. There is a noticeable increase in the frequency with which you hear such remarks. Put a stop to the filth in your mouth.
Clean up your language
I'm not implying that foul language is never acceptable here. It has nothing to do with that. The objective is to polish your expression of thought.
To "clean up" one's ideas, one must get rid of irrelevant information. Don't give away everything that happened when you're trying to make a point, convince someone, or tell a narrative.
This is especially crucial when addressing a large audience and having only a short amount of time to make your point.
What others think of you and how swayable you are are greatly affected by this. Less background noise is produced since only essential information is shared.
Instead of wasting time and effort sorting through irrelevant information, your audience can focus on absorbing and thinking about your ideas. The art of conversation includes honing your speaking skills.
You may have noticed that those who are both brilliant and successful are able to convey more information in less time. They have perfected the art of communication and found efficient ways to spread their views.
It's a surefire way to speed up the process of making new friends. Talking to one another will become more rewarding and useful.
Pretend you don't know what the other person is saying.
Understanding the other person is a fundamental skill in speaking. Prove your comprehension by asking follow-up questions and providing a relevant example.
In contrast, here you must do the exact opposite to reach the highest levels. You just presume that you're totally missing the point. When you first meet someone, it might be difficult to make sense of what they say.
The art of conversation will serve you well in this situation for a number of reasons. Being in this role requires you to be interested, inquiring, and open-minded.
Assuming that "you know what they're talking about" will cause you to lose out on the most crucial information. You only get the bare bones of a conversation and don't listen well enough to learn remarkable things about other people.
If you pretend you don't get it, you'll have to use your imagination to fill in the gaps. These are the most interesting aspects of the other person's tales, thoughts, or whatever it is they are discussing.
It's easy to miss out on them if you jump to the conclusion that you understand everything being said, even when they're more intriguing than anything else is stated.
Be deliberately appropriate
When interacting with friends and family, most people prefer to relax their inhibitions and adopt a more casual demeanor.
People still aim to develop personal connections and reveal more of their true selves at professional networking gatherings.
The takeaway here is to relax your formality a bit when mingling. Fundamentally, that's the point. Nonetheless, your goal is to master the art of conversation and graduate with more complex methods while you're here.
An advanced piece of advice is to relax your formality level somewhat while still maintaining your formality, appropriateness, and politeness when necessary.
You occasionally demonstrate through your speech that you are capable of formality and decorum. By displaying this aspect of yourself, you demonstrate that it exists and is available for your use at any time.
This understated action sends the message to your social circle that they can count on you when needed. They see that you can carry yourself professionally when the occasion calls for it.
When they are in the presence of an unfamiliar person, such as a coworker, family member, or stranger. They have confidence in your ability to operate in a way that enhances their reputation.
Being personable, upbeat, humorous, and even silly is fantastic. Everyone just wants to relax and have a good time with their pals, and this is what they crave.
It's also crucial that you know how to act when the situation calls for a more serious demeanor. Another example of a subtle hint. Although you only use it sometimes, it can have a lasting impact on your professional standing. They think they can take you wherever and introduce you to everyone they want to.
Create fake conversational enthusiasm
I use the term "manufacturing" to emphasize the point that excitement must be created on purpose. It's not enough to be upbeat and positive during a discussion if that mood permeates the atmosphere.
Conversational mastery requires maintaining a positive attitude even when there is little incentive to do so.
The conversation is the focus. You hope the talk goes well and turns out to be intriguing, and this anticipation and optimism make you feel confident and positive. Optimism is key, even at the outset of a dialogue.
A significant shift occurs in how others view you as a result of this. You become the person who ensures the success of your conversations by taking the lead.
Average conversationalists lack initiative and rarely take charge. Exuberance is evinced if and only if there is a cause. When people anticipate that the talk will be dull, they act and feel dull.
Be calm and collected. Take the initiative, lead the discussion, and inject your talk with energy and positivity to make it more engaging.
Drop hints about your passions
A person with mediocre conversational abilities tends to stick to the same small set of topics when first meeting someone new. Because of this, they come across as a restricted individual. It appears that they are restricted in the topics they can cover.
You definitely don't want this to happen to you. You don't want the other person to be wondering what the point of meeting up with you again would be. The last thing you want is for them to be thinking, "Well, they look nice, but I don't know whether we have much to talk about."
This happens frequently, even to those who are truly fascinating and open to engaging in a wide range of conversations.
However, their seeming narrowness and monotony in conversation give this impression.
Avoid this by spending as much time as possible discussing the things that truly interest you. Every subject is connected to every other subject. And you should look for chances to paint a comprehensive picture of your many passions and areas of expertise.
What it really does is paint a broad picture of who you are. And naturally, people think they have a lot to discuss with you.
Some examples include highlighting your intellectual prowess, cultural awareness, professional experience, extracurricular activities, intellectual hobbies, and vacations.
If you start the first meeting by covering the ground like that, the two of you will quickly discover how many common interests you share. This increases the likelihood that they will want to talk to you frequently.
Develop Your Conversational Comic Timing
The ability to lighten the mood, make jokes, and connect with others is an important part of the art of conversation. Excellent communicators can accomplish that with ease.
They don't have you rolling on the floor with laughter, but they do have some comic skills.
People tend to undervalue the significance of this. You can tell you've made it through life with a solid sense of humor that you can use in a pinch. This demonstrates that you are a person who can hold engaging talks with a variety of people and that you enjoy interacting with others.
You'll immediately be classified as someone who can get along well with others.
In order to be hilarious, you don't have to be extremely clever or talented, just competent.
Timing and the element of surprise are crucial to creating humorous situations. You can learn about humor from books if you wish, but I've found that watching and imitating your favorite comedians is the best way to hone your comedic timing.
If you have a favorite comic, think about why they make you laugh when you watch their comedy.
Just what was so hilarious about that one-liner or gag? Think about the ways in which you had hoped the story would go in a certain direction but found itself going in a different one. Think about how the joke ends.
Anyone can do this; you don't even need to think you're hilarious. You don't even need to examine humor deeply.
Acknowledging the factors at play in your own amusement is as simple as making it a habit to reflect on the reasons certain events or situations were so enjoyable. Examine the text for the linguistic structure that led to your laughter.
You'll develop your own sense of humor and start using it in conversation before long.
Related: The Power of Positive Thinking
You can learn to master the art of conversation through practice.
It's amazing to witness some of these highly skilled folks in action when you go out and start talking to strangers. Everything they say appears to hit the nail on the head. They seem to be excellent storytellers who can brilliantly convey their ideas.
Most of the things they say have been said to other people before, but you might not know that. They've practiced saying them a few times and can do it with near perfection at this point.
That is to say, kids get the opportunity to practice using those narratives, idioms, and justifications.
There's a good chance you may learn something from their approach. It's fine to be well-prepared and even rehearsed if you want to become an expert conversationalist.
The best way to get comfortable sharing your thoughts and experiences is to practice. Try to enjoy yourself.
Even better, rapidly visualize how you can tell others about any fresh concept or story that you come up with. Think about how you can phrase it so that other people will love it as much as you do.
Realize that the way your brain organizes thoughts is different from the way you should organize them for clear expression. You have to find a means to articulate and communicate "the notion in your head" effectively.
Think about sharing that thought-provoking podcast or insightful documentary with others the next time you listen to one. This will help you communicate your thoughts clearly and concisely even if you're simply doing it for pleasure.
by Dale Carnegie
Because of its timeless nature, this choice may appear obvious at first. It's essential to any library of books on the subject of communication, therefore here it is. The book's subtitle says it all: "how to convey ideas, take on leadership, and inspire others."
by Mortimer J. Adler
This classic can be useful to anyone from a business leader to a student to a parent and beyond.
by Peggy Noonan
As a wordsmith, Noonan worked with both Dan Rather and Ronald Reagan. With the guidance of an expert who has assisted leaders and presidents in communicating their views to the globe, this book simplifies the process of public speaking.