Did you know there are specific techniques you can use to have more meaningful conversations? People waste countless hours engaging in unproductive conversation. Many times, you have scheduled calls that go on for hours, or run into someone at a conference and kick off a seemingly endless conversation without much end product. These valuable hours can never be recovered. Here are some time tested techniques on how to hold a conversation that will improve your communication skills instantly.

How to Hold a Conversation


Make It About Them

Talking to someone who is self-centered is tiring. It often comes off as arrogant and dismissive. If you want to have more meaningful and fun conversations, it is important to give the other person time to talk. Give sincere compliments and positive feedback whenever possible. If they notice you have a sincere interest in them, they become more responsive to you.


Practice Active Listening

Avoid the temptation to think about what you’re going to say next while someone else is speaking. You should be aware of this during conversations and try to stop yourself from drifting off when someone else is talking. It’s not easy especially if you’re an extrovert and like talking a lot. A good way to practice is to listen to the person you’re talking to and try to repeat what he or she just said.


Ask the Right Questions

You can get those you’re communicating with to share more about themselves by asking the right questions. Ask open ended questions to help them reveal more about their feelings and opinions about a certain topic. If you have talked to them before and they happened to mention something they were interested in, ask a follow-up question about it. This is a great tip on how to hold a conversation.


Consider the Environment

Don’t try to start a conversation beyond quick pleasantries in a noisy and overcrowded place. You both will have a hard time hearing each other out. If you want to hold a conversation, pick a place that has a slow and relaxed pace. It will be pressure free and devoid of distractions. A coffee shop would be a great location.


Find Common Ground

Put the other person’s interests into consideration. Find a topic that you both enjoy instead of focusing on your own interests. You may need to ask a few questions before you find your common ground, but it will be worth your while.

For example, if you’re trying to get to know your new colleague, you can talk about your favorite TV shows, food, sport or book. You might find that you have similar taste and kick off an enjoyable conversation.


Stay Up to Date

Make sure you are aware of current news and events. This is one of the best tricks on how to hold a conversation. Make sure to go through the headlines for a few minutes every morning. This way, you will be able to contribute to conversations about current affairs. Read up on pop culture as well to keep yourself from running out of talking points.


Mind Your Body Language

You should be aware of your body language and what it’s communicating. Make eye contact with the person you're holding a conversation with. It shows that you’re totally engaged in the conversation and you’re paying attention.

Don’t stare directly into their eyes throughout as it will come off as being creepy. Maintain eye contact at least 50% of the time when you’re talking and 70% of the time when they’re talking. Use nonverbal cues such as nodding and smiling to show understanding occasionally.


Be Genuine

If you come off as sincere, the other person will be more receptive to you. Try to demonstrate that your interest in them is genuine and that you value their opinions. Take note of things that they do and comment on them. For example, your colleague at work could have a piece of memorabilia on the desk. Comment on it and try to find out the story behind it.


Don’t Overshare

Don’t say things that might be awkward. Avoid saying things that will embarrass the person you’re talking to or even yourself. Don’t give too much information about yourself. Evaluate the relationship you have with the person before blurting out things you might regret. You don’t want to discuss your hemorrhoids with someone you just met.


Know Who You’re Talking To

Want to know how to hold a conversation successfully? Do some research about the person you’re meeting. You can do some background research on their social networks to find out about their interests, whether they have a family, if they own a pet and which kind of groups and pages they follow. That will give you an idea on what to talk about when you guys meet. Don’t make it too obvious that you were checking them out during the conversation.


Know When to End It

The conversation must come to an end at some point. You should know when it’s time to stop. The person you’re talking to can end it by saying something like “I have to go now” or you can end it with a similar excuse. You can also say something like, “It was nice talking to you. We can catch up another time”, and then exchange contact details.


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