It’s no secret that having strong speaking skills can get you far in life. Whether it’s charming the cute girl at the coffee shop, commanding the attention of colleagues at a work meeting, or simply making a new friend, speaking well can provide you opportunities previously thought to be impossible. 

Lunch date? No problemCredit: Mark Sebastian at https://www.flickr.com/photos/markjsebastian/3280003051/

Most people who struggle with speaking generally complain that there is “nothing to talk about.” Unless you live under a rock, this is ABSOLUTELY untrue. With hundreds of thousands of hours of life experiences under your belt, “nothing to talk about” is not a great excuse for lack of speaking. Here are a few tips to get you going.

1. Become an observer

Making observations about people or your environment shows people that you are PRESENT in an interaction. Knowing what is going on around you is an attractive trait that leads people to believe you are accepted socially. 

2. Listen

A great way to have a conversation when you don’t know what to say is to have the other person talk. Learning from others is a valuable skill- you only get one life to live, so why not gather many lives worth of knowledge and experiences? 

3. Don’t hold back curiosity

Get into a habit of not holding back your curiosity. If somebody is rocking some sweet sunglasses, ask where they got them. Ask someone what time it is. “Cool” content is not necessary.  This free-flowing attitude allows you to become more relatable- most of the time you aren’t the only one with the same thought.

4. Speak without fear

This one can be very difficult for people who struggle with confidence. Many times, it isn’t what you say- but how you say it. Depending on how you say it, a conversation about your favorite grocery store can come across as a big deal. Realize that you have a lot to contribute to other people’s lives. 

6. Practice

The best way to improve your conversational skills is to simply practice. Talk to as many people as you can- this will help you determine what works for you, and help carve out your own personal style. Make it a goal to talk to one new person per day, and see where that takes you.

 All this being said, there are times when it is best to not say anything at all. You must get a feel for when people don’t feel like talking- they give short responses that don’t keep the conversation going, negative body language, appear distracted, etc. There is nothing worse for your social value than coming across as needy. Watch other people whose skills you admire and emulate what they do. Although it may not seem like it at times, everyone says stupid things- the quicker you can accept this fact, the easier it will for you to be more free-flowing. Implementing these tips into your social interactions will expand your speaking repertoire and social abilities.