How to Have an Effortless Conversation

Skylar Wooden and Katie Butler

May 28, 2017

As a young professional, it can be difficult to find your own voice. Every new conversation determines the impression you’re going to make and how that will define you as a professional. You’ll notice that you are attempting to listen while also trying not to forget what you want to say next. Cue Charlie Brown’s teacher

If you’re reading this article, you have likely read articles like it that suggested:

  • Nodding your head while the speaker is talking;
  • Mirroring the body language of the speaker; and
  • Asking questions.

These are all good suggestions, but surface-level tips. We’ve put together a few tactics proven to help you with professional conversations.

Use the phrase ‘So What I’m Hearing Is…’

This is a life saver. It’s best use is when you’re in a meeting where several different ideas are being thrown around, people are going on tangents, and you see that the conversation isn’t going in the direction of resolution.

If you find yourself here, stay quiet, listen intently to everyone, understand their common points, then say “So what I’m hearing is…” and then summarize the main points. The other people in the meeting will see that as a cue to reach a resolution and hearing their points come together will move the conversation in that direction.

Pro tip: Forget ‘what you were going to say next’ and just listen. Being a good conversationalist only requires that you take a true interest in what is being said, the person saying it, and what they’re telling you.

Ask Follow Up Questions

Thoughtful follow-up questions will tell the person that you’re actively listening. Here are a few circumstances that will help you form a thoughtful question:

  • They used technical jargon that you didn’t understand.
  • They said something that you would like to learn more about.
  • They mentioned a topic you would like a resource suggestion for.
  • They mentioned they went to/worked for a particular organization that you haven’t heard of.

Also see Six Tips to Networking Like a Pro.

Don’t Underestimate the Power of a Conversation

Every conversation could be the ticket to the perfect career, volunteer event, or potential network contact. You never know what one conversation can provide you with. Assume that this conversation is going to be life changing and you will never run out of things to say or questions to ask.

Do you have tips on networking conversation?

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