We have all met someone who has a knack for carrying on a good conversation. While it is true that some individuals have the necessary skill set to be completely at ease, the rest of us find this to be a setback. With persistent practice and helpful tips, you can improve your conversation skills and master this art form.

3 Do’s of Conversation

Show genuine interest and curiosity in others.

Be attentive and an active listener. If you are shy like me at times, you will need to warm up in order to proactively participate. Asking open-ended questions can help you stay on track. Don’t ask what someone does and leave it at that. Extend the topic further with more follow-up questions to get more details. Simply being genuinely interested and focusing on the discussion is a way to stay engaged in the conversation. When you show interest this also reassures the other person to feel relaxed and share information more easily.

Be prepared by staying on top of the latest news, developments, and world events.

Think about the people you will be meeting and brainstorm questions to ask as well as stories to tell. Even if you are not familiar with the group you will be speaking with, keep in mind of topics of discussion that will probably interest them. You don’t have to know everything but if you can enlighten them during the course of a conversation, you will be a tremendous hit! This can also benefit you as you can learn something new. This method aids you in finding a connection with the other person. In some cases when you are not particularly good at one-liners, you can always listen, smile and engage in the discussion by being present.

Be approachable and maintain a pleasant attitude.

To initiate a conversation, go up to someone and introduce yourself. Not only is this a polite gesture but this starts off things smoothly. Offer a handshake if the situation calls for it, smile warmly, and make eye contact. This will make you appear more friendly and inviting.

3 Don’ts of Conversation

Do not interrupt.

When the speaker is in mid-sentence wait for them to finish before you start talking. Interrupting someone’s train of thought indicates you are unwilling to participate in the current discussion and are uninterested in the topic. Everyone who is involved in a conversation should have their fair amount of time in the spotlight. This is when it is important to strive for a balance of give-and-take. A good rule of thumb to look for is after you or the other person makes a point, there is usually a pause for agreement or an alternative view. Give them your full attention respectfully. Fine tune the message if needed.

Avoid poor delivery.

It is easier for people to listen and for you to get what you are saying across to them when you speak clearly. Body language is crucial in this situation as it allows for you to see if the conversation is moving forward or not. Be prepared to drop a subject when you start to bore people or if they show signs of becoming uncomfortable. If you, later on, realize that you were the rambler then at the very least you will have come to a conclusion on what needs improvement and are aware of how to progress.

Do not pretend to be someone you are not.

Train yourself to relax as it is a vital tool for good conversation. It may seem like a daunting task at first, but do not be afraid of rejection. This will likely never happen. People are at the same event to be social and meet others. Individuality goes a long way. Be yourself. People are very interesting which means you will always find something to talk about in this world, as small or big as it might seem.

Different things work for different people. Find your own method. When you take the time to gain the necessary expertise you open yourself up to greater relationships, further career opportunities, and enhanced self-confidence. You will also reach a higher level of shared knowledge and cooperation while successfully accomplishing your goals. With practice and attention, you can improve your communication skills.

Looking for an opportunity to practice? Attend the Fall 2016 Career and Internship Expo and mingle with other professionals!