A lot of us are quite nervous when it comes to starting a conversation whether it’d be with a total stranger or even someone we know. It’s perfectly normal. We’re unsure about a lot of things. Do they want to talk? Will they be interested?
If you have a good reason to talk to them, those things shouldn’t matter. Overcome them and just do it! Here are some tips to help you make that process easier.
1. Greet politely.
People will only open up to you if you show them that you’re approachable and friendly and a polite greeting displays that. Just a simple “Hello. How are you?” or “Hi there, free for a chat?” is good enough. Don’t forget to introduce yourself!
Like the first tip, smiling is another display of friendliness. People will feel more comfortable talking to you knowing that you’re in a good mood. Smiling is also a stimulus that people will respond by smiling back thus making the conversation a lot smoother.
3. Maintain eye contact.
This is quite difficult for some of us. I had to train myself for quite a while and I still have a hard time doing it. However, it is extremely important because eye contact shows that you’re interested. It also helps to remember that a lack of eye contact doesn’t only show disinterest but also a lack of confidence.
4. Speak slowly.
We tend to talk faster when we’re nervous and this will lead to us fumbling our words and becoming even more nervous. So just relax, smile and talk slowly. Pace yourself. It’ll help you calm down and be more confident. Furthermore, people will find it easier to focus on what you’re saying.
If you find yourself talking too fast, just take a deep breath and continue slowly. You can even lighten the mood by saying something like “Sorry, a bit nervous right now.” with a smile or a laugh.
5. Focus on them.
Ask them questions and hear what they have to say. As the conversation starter, you want to appear interested and this is how you do it. If you’re meeting in a certain environment such as a networking event, you can ask about things such as their job and their career goals.
Try your best to focus the conversation on them instead of yourself but balance it out and don’t be too quiet or reserved. Don’t just ask them questions. For every respond they give, give one of your own too.
Only talk about yourself if they ask about you or if they don’t feel like talking about themselves.
6. Find a proper place to talk.
Finding a place to sit will make the conversation easier as you both will be in a more comfortable position to chat. If there’s nowhere to sit, find an appropriate place where you’re not blocking anyone’s path or near anywhere with a lot of noise.
7. Find topics around you.
As mentioned in tip #5, you should use the environment to help you find topics to talk about. If you’re meeting at a certain event, ask them about how they knew about the event or why they’ve attended. Even things happening in the background such as music or decorations can be used as topics.
Try out these tips in the next conversation you start and use what works for you so that you develop your own style of approaching people. Good luck!