Think before you speak

It turns out that our parents were right!  Thinking before speaking is the #1 approach when starting any conversation.

In networking or business meetings that require more than just idle chit chat, we must learn to be on our professional game as conversationalists.  While wit and eloquence are indeed handy, the “gift for gab” is not a requirement (never fear introverts!).

Visualize

Imagine you are shopping for a Hallmark greeting card.  A variety of topics for every situation are in front of you (birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, etc.).

When starting a conversation, we recommend having several “cards” prepared in your mind. For example, here are a few perfectly acceptable topics:

  • Sports
  • Weather
  • Food
  • Music
  • Movies
  • Pop Culture

We recommend steering clear of controversial topics, such as:

  • Politics
  • Religion
  • Sex

If criticism or gossip about another company or person arises, the best approach is to shift the conversation.  Personal information such as family, personal health, and financial matters are always best reserved for conversations with close family and friends.

When you find there is nothing more to say on a topic, put that card back in the rack and choose a new one.

Ebb & Flow

The keys to an easy and successful conversation are to focus more on the other person than on yourself.  A good conversationalist refrains from overusing the pronouns “I” and “me.”

It’s not that your opinions and thoughts are not important.  Participating in a conversation should be an enjoyable balance between speaking and listening.  You will find that good conversations flow naturally, as one topic leads to another.