As promised last time, here are seven tips to help you make your small talk huge!
1. Fill your small talk arsenal. Get up-to-date on current news through whatever vehicle you use and then form an opinion so you can discuss it. It’s fine if you have a divergent opinion so long as you listen to others’ and remain congenial.
2. Prepare a few questions based on the time of the year.
a. Current business news
b. Unusual weather
c. College/pro basketball/football/baseball/hockey games and standings
d. Movies and TV shows/ Oscar or Emmy nominees
e. Questions and comments about the sponsoring organization
It is generally advisable to steer clear of politics and religion.
3. Practice by yourself. Talk to yourself in the mirror and watch your expressions and gestures. Are they appropriate? Do they need honing? Don’t imitate the president who raised three fingers when he was discussing two items.
4. Practice with others. Try starting conversations with family, friends, clerks, neighbors, co-workers, wait staff, people in doctors’ waiting rooms, etc. Mentally record if you get the conversation started and if it goes in the direction you want.
5. Listen better. Use your two ears (and two eyes in person) and one mouth to your advantage. Remind yourself of the proportion as you glance in a mirror at an event … in fact, every time you look in a mirror.
6. Look confident. You automatically appear to be more knowledgeable and someone others want to get to know.
a. Plant your feet.
b. Hold your head high.
c. Keep your shoulders back.
d. Put your chest out.
e. Hold your stomach in.
f. Make direct eye contact.
7. Observe and listen before joining a conversation in progress. Prepare your remarks and wait for an opening.