You’ve probably heard it said before that it’s not what you say; it’s how you say it. Well, when it comes to starting a conversation, it applies more than ever. This doesn’t mean what you say doesn’t matter. However, it is mostly how you say it that communicates your attitude.
There is some famous research done by psychologist Albert Mehrabian which points out that our emotions and attitudes are communicated only 7% through words, 38% through the qualities of your voice, and an amazing 55% though your body language.
I believe that the best attitude that you can communicate when delivering a conversation starter is being relaxed, friendly and confident. People will tend to respond a lot better to other people with this attitude, no matter what conversation starters they use.
There are 5 ideas I think are important to apply when delivering a conversation starter, in order to get the best reactions possible:
1. Speak fluently. You don’t want to stutter or stumble over your own words when delivering conversation starters. Make sure that once you chose a conversation starter, you don’t switch to another one in your head, fearing you didn’t pick the proper one. What’s done is done: once you chose what to say, say it in clear, straightforward way.
2. Speak slowly and loud. It often happens for a person to be somewhat nervous when initiating a conversation. It sometimes happens for a person to be shy. Both these things tend to make one speak fast and in a low voice. If this is the case for you, consciously do the opposite instead: use a medium to slow speaking speed and a medium to high speaking volume.
3. Orient yourself towards the other person. When you start a conversation, you want the other person to know you intend to have a conversation with them and to get them committed in it. You do this by orienting your body and your head towards the person you’re talking with, maybe at a slight angle. I know there is also this popular idea of talking over your shoulder when initiating a conversation, but I’m not a fan of it.
4. Keep eye contact. Looking at the person you’re talking with is a basic sign of respect and confidence. It also keeps the other person interested in listening to you and talking with you. There is no need to stare at the other person, but do keep eye contact with them about 2/3 of the time when kicking off a conversation.
5. Shut up. After you use a conversation starter to initiate a conversation, you want to let the other person take it from there: answer your question, make a comment, whatever. You don’t want to go: “What do you think about this party?… I mean, do you like it? Is it like you expected?… I love it! It’s the coolest party I’ve been to lately…”
Use your conversation starter, then shut up. Even if the other person is slow to pick up the conversation, have patience and give them some time. Remember it’s a dialog, not a monologue.
Delivering a convo starter with style is a reflection of your people skills and your confidence level. You can improve how you deliver conversation starters by working directly on your body language and voice, but keep in mind that if you want to go to the next level, you’ll need to work on your people skills and confidence as a whole.