How to Actually Talk About Yourself to Strangers
Oh, small talk! Sorry, but there are times when we can’t avoid it. In episode 11, I spoke about tips and tricks for avoiding people. However, sometimes we just can’t. We have to go out into the world and there will be people who love to talk to us. In the spirit of giving and making things easier for you, I’m going to give you some tips and tricks on how to actually talk to people about yourself and talk to strangers.
Tip #1: No one really cares when it comes to quick one-off conversations.
For example, being in a checkout line or waiting to see the doctor. No one really cares too much about what you talk about, it’s mostly about being nice, killing time, and breaking up the monotony of the day. You can simply answer their questions with one or two words, and that’s the end of it. There really doesn’t have to be anything else. These are the types of conversations that happen a lot. You can batch them up into one day so you get them over with, or just deal with them as they come.
Tip #2: Have a fail safe topic to fall back on.
In Minnesota, we have the weather. We have four seasons here, but sometimes they happen out of order and are all over the place. This gives us something to talk about. Another good conversation topic is dislike for a certain sports team or sport. Other topics could include your family, pets, school, or work. Keep the conversation simple. You don’t have to talk about all the details, but these are topics you can easily talk about for 10-15 minutes at a time. It’s about you, yet only enough to skim the surface and satisfy the other person.
Tip #3: Conserve your energy.
There will be situations where you need to have full conversations, such as networking, work meetings, projects, being out with friends while meeting their other friends or family, conventions, work events, and more. You have to go, but you can’t avoid talking completely. The good news is that you typically know when these things are happening and you can plan ahead for extra energy, whether it is before or after. One way to conserve energy is to let other people do the talking, simply listening and reacting here and there. You’re still participating in the conversation. One tip for eye contact is to give the eye contact at the beginning of the conversation, and then when they are busy talking, you can let your eye wander a little bit. They don’t really notice after a certain point.
Tip #4: Script it out.
Have an elevator pitch and a couple of topics you can talk about deeper and on a more personal level. Let where you are at the time, and who you’re with, lead the way for the conversation. If you’re at work, let work lead the conversation. Other things you can have a deeper conversation about are your kids, pets, and hobbies. Pick certain subjects that are okay to talk about in certain environments you are in. You can also use some of the topics in tip #2, your fail safe topics. You can even ask questions to help lead the conversation and get the other person talking instead of yourself. Ask off the cuff questions, such as:
What are your hobbies?
What do you love to do?
What do you wish to do?
Where do you want to travel?
Some extra tips are to find an extrovert that is good at conversations so you need to do less work, have food in your hands, or walk around the room if possible. You can also check out my conference and wedding episodes for more tips. You can get better at talking with other people and strangers. Work with what you’re good at and expand on it. Talking to other people and complete strangers sucks, but it’s good for us. We can’t be alone all the tim