By Krista Weger for Mantality.co.za
We’ve all seen (and envied) those men who draw crowds by the virtue of their speaking finesse alone. They may not be particularly attractive or wealthy, but one thing is for certain – they’ve got the magic of fine conversation to get people focused on their every word. Although some men might have an innate charm or suave demeanor, learning how to hold a conversation is just as much a skill as it is an art. And as for any skill, practice can make perfect. Use the five keys below to enhance your confidence, cultivate savvy dialog, and improve your ability to speak to anyone about anything.
You might think speaking is the essential element of a good conversation, but the truth is, being a good listener is the way to get people flocking to talk to you. Because people love talking about themselves, they appreciate someone who responds with interest and asks questions. Make sure to ask open-ended questions rather than ones that can be answered with a simple yes or no, and follow-up with comments or additional questions to show involvement. This makes people feel good, and when people feel good, they’ll be more likely to remember you as a conversation king.
Even if you spend just 20 minutes a day browsing the latest headlines and current affairs, having topics at the ready will help you speak intelligently and keeps the conversation flowing. Stay up to date on everything from world affairs to pop culture and bizarre facts, and you’ll be admired as a fascinating conversationalist. If the conversation lends itself to it, draw on personal experience and share humorous or embarrassing stories that will have your audience in tears.
Know your audience
Tailor your topics to the person or people to whom you’re speaking and keep their interest piqued. This works particularly well on a date as women love a man who comes across as attentive and caring. If you don’t know the people you’re speaking to, at a networking event, for example, ask them questions that target their industry or business, or make use of the knowledge you acquire from your daily reading to contribute to the back and forth of conversation. If you know you’ll be meeting the CEO of a business you’re really interested in, do background research in preparation.
Nobody wants to hear the gruelling details of your recent torturous break-up; nor do they want a play-by-play of your latest sales success. If you suffer from verbal diarrhoea, it’s time to break the habit and refrain from burdening others with your personal details, or you may come across as desperate or lonely. At the same time, don’t interrogate your conversation partner with questions that border on a breach of privacy. You’re not a Private Investigator, so don’t play one in real life.
Avoid engaging in arguments
A light debate can be part of a healthy conversation, but be careful that good-natured jibes don’t spiral into defensiveness or anger. Turn the other cheek even if the person you’re talking to is on the attack. You may come across as the bad guy. Stay cool and collected and people will take note of your maturity and professionalism.