One of the most highly researched things in the field of psychology is why and…
Talking to people is awkward only when you have nothing to say. Here’s how to keep a conversation going and make everyone love spending time around you.
Everyone loves talking and sharing their ideas. And more than that, we want to become wonderful conversationalists so everyone would love hanging out with us. If you’re wondering how to keep a conversation going with anyone, maybe you’re focusing on the wrong thing.
When we think of things to talk about with someone, our mind goes into overdrive looking for conversation topics.
But what if that’s the wrong way to go looking for things to talk about? What if there were an easier and far more relaxed way to talk to anyone, and keep the conversation going for as long as you’d like?
The first few minutes of a new conversation
For most of us, the first few minutes of a new conversation is the absolute worst. It’s awkward and uneasy, and almost a toe curling nightmare.
You don’t know what to say. They’re staring at you blankly because they don’t know what to say. Both of you smile awkwardly and look around hoping someone else would pop in and save you both from this nightmare.
But what if you could be that person who saves the day and the conversation? Can you become the person everyone instantly feels relaxed around because they know you’ll say all the right things and turn an awkward moment into something fun and easy?
Here’s something to remember. As annoying as those first few minutes are, it is those very few minutes that will turn out to be the biggest judge of your conversation skills. After all, first impressions are made of first conversations.
If you want to be an amazing conversationalist and never run out of things to talk about, read this feature on the 22 most important traits of a good conversationalist. Once you know them, you’ll never have any trouble holding a conversation with anyone.
How to keep a conversation going effortlessly
It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to impress your new date, woo a guy or girl in a first conversation, or make small talk with someone you’re standing next to.
The most important thing to remember is to avoid the awkwardness of those first few seconds from seeping into the conversation.
If your new friend feels awkward, chances are, they’d want to slip away from you as soon as possible or they’d be praying for you to leave them alone.
And you really can’t get someone’s attention if all they’re doing is focusing on getting away instead of staying back and enjoying a conversation with you, can you?
How to make the first few minutes work in your favor
Awkwardness always finds a way to crawl into a first conversation within the first few minutes. If you can ensure that your first few minutes with someone you’re talking to is exciting and fun, they’d look forward to sticking around you the whole evening.
The location and the reason for the gathering are always great conversation starters, be it a cocktail party hosted by your friend or a Friday night get-together after work. And from there on, if you want to know how to keep a conversation going, all you need to keep these cues in mind.
When it comes to the first few minutes, here are all the things that matter most.
1. Appear confident
Have an upright and confident posture *you can fake this easily even if you’re nervous* and stand tall. If you want to catch someone’s eye or get them to engage in a conversation with you, you have to intrigue them. After all, you picked someone to talk to, because you found them interesting.
So why would someone want to get into a conversation with you if they don’t think you’re interesting? If you want to get them interested in you, you need to appear interesting.
2. Appear relaxed
Your energy is contagious. Have you ever felt anxious while standing next to someone who seemed nervous, flustered and all over the place? If you feel relaxed, they will too! When you’re standing next to someone, don’t fidget. Take a few deep breaths, pretend like you’re enjoying every single thing around you, and you will!
3. Your first smile
Flash a quick warm smile at the person you’re talking to. It almost instantly makes anyone feel at ease. If you haven’t started talking yet, you can nod and smile, and look away for a moment.
But if you’ve been introduced, smile warmly and just look at them with mild curiosity. You don’t have to say something immediately. Sometimes, just smiling and looking at them warmly will make the other person initiate the conversation instead!
4. Don’t be nervous to look around
When you want to keep a conversation going, you don’t have to stare intently at the person you’re talking to. Sometimes, it’s far more comfortable to take a second and scan your eyes curiously around the room.
It gives the person you’re talking to a moment to compose themselves, it gives you new ideas from around the room to talk about, and most importantly, it cuts the awkward tension of small talk.
5. Use what’s around to make a conversation out of it
When you look around in the middle of a conversation, you’ll always find something new to talk about. Mutual friends, exotic looking food, someone’s funny antics, the weather, a drink… literally anything you can think of will work here.
Remember, the person you’re talking to would probably be feeling awkward as well. And they’ll appreciate any new conversation topic you bring to the table!
6. Silence is okay
There’s nothing wrong with a bit of silence in a conversation. What matters is how comfortable you are handling that awkward silence.
If you look and feel comfortable in a moment of quiet, the other person will start to relax too. Remember, you can guide the pace of a conversation, or let the other person know there’s no need to keep talking. And all this starts with “appearing” as cool and relaxed as you possibly can be.
The 5 best conversation makers for enjoyable conversations
Conversations have to be fun and interesting. And conversations get interesting only when the two people conversing have things in common. After you’re done with the introductions, you need to try and build the connection so your new friend feels like they have something in common with you.
If you want to keep a conversation going, here are the best things you can talk about that will definitely help find common ground between both of you.
1. The location
The place both of you are in is a perfect way to get to know each other without getting personal too soon. Talk about where you are at that moment, and about anything you see around you.
Work is rather impersonal and a good conversation topic to talk about in the first few minutes. If you know something about their line of work, appear interested in it and ask a few curious questions or talk about what you do professionally.
3. Beyond work
Everyone indulges in a few activities beyond work, be it hobbies or watching movies on weekends. As you talk about work, try to involve other activities into your questions by saying something like “your work seems rather hectic, you must be doing something to blow off steam during the weekends…”
A good conversationalist always tries to merge and flow from one conversation topic into another without going off in a tangent, bouncing from one different topic to another.
So whatever you ask, find a way to incorporate the question to an answer the person gives.
4. Talk about a common factor
There must be something in common between both of you, and that’s always a great way to break the ice or go into something more personal.
Talk about the friend that introduced both of you, the host of the gathering, or an activity both of you share.
5. An incident you experienced a few minutes ago
Funny anecdotes or fresh stories are always great icebreakers to have a laugh. Did you experience anything funny, like spilling a drink or tasting something that was revolting a few minutes ago?
If you want to make someone feel comfortable and like you, you need to make them laugh at the opportune moment.
6. You can use a few conversation starters
If you have a hard time using any of the topics above to keep a conversation going, just use an appropriate conversation starter.
They always work, and unless you use something that’s obscure, the person you’re talking to would be happy to indulge you, unless they’re just waiting to get away from you. Use 25 of these perfect conversation starters that work anywhere to get the conversation going to get the conversation going.
How to keep a conversation going for as long as you’d like in 3 simple steps
To keep a conversation going, there are just 3 things you need to keep in mind. Once you’re past the hellos and the pleasantries, use these three tips to stretch the happy conversation until it naturally progresses into something far more interesting and fun.
1. Open ended questions
If you’re interested in prolonging the conversation, always ask open ended questions. Answer any question you’re asked with another question so your new friend can respond to you with their own views.
2. Use their answers to create more questions
If the person you’re talking to says they like something, use their answer to create more questions to find out more about their interests.
With each new question you ask, you’d be able to visualize several other questions that can help you know more about this person, and at the same time, make them feel more involved.
“I’m glad I met you here, or this place would be such a bore.” Saying something nice will help the person to warm up better to you. A compliment or two is a pleasant break from the typical conversation of questions and answers.
On a cautionary note, compliment the person you’re talking to only when both of you have been talking for at least a few minutes. Using them too soon can seem creepy and desperate.
But if they say something they’re proud of, like “I just got promoted” or “I helped organize this party”, make sure you use the circumstance to compliment them about it.
The most important things to remember during your first conversation
A conversation doesn’t start and end with the words you choose to use. A lot more depends on your personality and the way you behave around this new friend you’re talking to.
If you want to keep a conversation going without any awkwardness in the air, keep these things in mind, and you’ll have a much better chance of impressing the person you’re talking to.
1. Be comfortable during the conversation
If you feel uncomfortable or awkward, the person you’re talking to will immediately sense the discomfort you’re feeling. And that would only make both of you feel more awkward.
Relax, using these tips on how to keep a conversation going, you’d already know everything about what you need to talk. There’s no need to feel stressed by the conversation. You know what you need to say, don’t you?
2. Look around now and then
In between your conversation, every now and then, don’t say anything for a couple of seconds. Just look around casually for a second or two, and then continue the conversation. Adding a few seconds of quiet time now and then initially will help the person you’re talking to feel more comfortable, even in silence.
But if you see their eyes light up with excitement, don’t stop talking. They love your company already!
3. Smile and nod along when they’re saying something interesting
Be warm when you talk to someone, especially if you’re trying to impress them. Smiling can do two things, let them know you like their company, and secondly, it’ll help them feel more relaxed around you.
And nodding, it makes people believe you can relate to what they’re saying. So they’ll continue talking enthusiastically as long as you’re nodding along.
4. But don’t just smile!
Smiling and looking around without saying anything makes everything seem much more awkward. If you smile, make sure you say something to continue the conversation as soon as you look towards them again.
5. Don’t fidget
If you want to overcome the awkwardness, stop fidgeting. If you start fidgeting or looking around because you don’t know what to say, you’d end up fidgeting a lot more in your effort to cover your awkwardness.
Stand or sit down calmly, and just look around to find a new inspiration to talk about.
6. Be interested
Seem genuinely interested when you’re talking to someone you’ve just met. And try your best to look focused and avoid appearing distracted. Distraction is an annoying insult to someone who’s taking time to answer you or have a conversation with you.
7. Stop judging yourself
It’s completely acceptable to say something silly or stupid now and then. Stop holding yourself back in the fear of saying something that you think will be judged. People are forgiving and likable if you seem like a relaxed person, so just laugh your slip ups off and no one will care!
8. Involve the quiet person
If there are more than two people you’re talking to at the same time, always make sure you involve the quiet or bored person. This person is your weak link and the ticking time bomb, and the one who can make everything way more awkward.
If you notice someone fidgeting or appearing bored, involve them in the conversation by asking for their opinion, so they can join in, and their bad energy won’t rub off on others who are enjoying the conversation with you.
9. Ramble on
It’s completely okay to ramble for the first minute. Don’t use a filter to avoid saying something, just to appear “cooler” or more uptight. At least for the first couple of minutes, just say the first thing that comes to your mouth *unless it’s totally inappropriate*. It’ll help both of you feel at ease around each other.
10. Your goal is to find a mutual interest and click
Here’s the most important part in knowing how to keep a conversation going with someone. You need to find that mutual interest that can connect both of you together.
In every new conversation you have with someone new, the first few minutes are all about stabbing in the dark. You don’t know them. They don’t know you. It just makes everything more awkward.
But if you want to build on the conversation and turn into into friendship, you NEED to find that common ground.
Ask lots of questions, share a lot of your thoughts, and soon, you two will find something both of you have in common that’ll bring you two closer.
11. Don’t be overeager
Don’t be an eager beaver who’s waiting to please. Don’t talk about meeting up again sometime or try making plans to catch up for a coffee date within the first couple of minutes. You’ll just end up coming off like a clingy leech.
If you’ve had a nice time and have to say goodbye, say something like “we should catch up sometime again” or “I had a wonderful time talking to you, I’d love to see you again sometime…” or “hey, let me get your phone number/ Insta account”
Giving up and second chances
Even the best of conversationalists have to deal with grumpy company now and then. If someone’s clearly not interested in talking, don’t blame yourself for it *unless you’re a bore who’s not following these conversation tips!*
If someone excuses themselves after a few minutes, don’t force them to continue the conversation. If you really like them and want to get to know them better, you could always *accidentally* bump into them when you find them alone and bored after a while, or if they walk past you later in the evening.
All you have to do is look towards them, slow down just a bit and smile. Or just wave or raise the hand holding a drink ever so slightly. If they’re interested in talking to you, they’d walk up to you and in all probability, they may even be happy to talk to you this time around.
Dealing with bad conversationalists
Are you the only one constantly asking questions or making conversation? Do you really like this person so much that you’re willing to throw yourself off a bridge to continue the conversation?
Here are 3 bad conversationalists and different ways to deal with it.
1. They’re not interested
If someone isn’t interested in talking to you, or is answering only with monosyllabic answers like yes or no, then let them go. You’d only annoy them and make them dislike you if you try to force them into a conversation.
2. Rude or cold behavior
Some people get rude or prefer to behave in a cold way to cover their own awkwardness. If you’re talking to someone who isn’t getting away from you, nor are they trying to converse with you, they’re probably the ones who aren’t confident about their own conversation skills. And they find it easier to hide their awkwardness behind a wall of ungraciousness.
Be warm and friendly, and try to get them to feel more relaxed before you give up on them.
3. The scared conversationalist
Almost all people are intimidated and awed by smooth talkers. A few guys and girls take time to open up, especially if you’re an extremely smooth and confident conversationalist. If the person you’re talking to doesn’t open up quickly, take it slow.
Instead of being too smooth, pause for a few seconds every now and then before asking a question. By doing that, let them believe that you’re no smooth talker either. It’ll take the pressure off them and give them more confidence to ask you questions in return.
Ending a conversation the right way
No matter how the conversation goes, end the conversation warmly. Even if you couldn’t impress someone, or get someone to fall for you, you at least have a new acquaintance or a friend. Perhaps, if you ever do bump into this person somewhere else, you can still say hello and start all over again.
But if it all works out and the person you’re talking to has fun talking to you, make sure you find a way to keep in touch, or make plans to meet again.
The next time you’re wondering how to keep a conversation going, just use these tips. With these, you’ll never ever have any difficulty with impressing anyone you meet, and having a great time too!