There’s a science behind having great conversations, and according to behavioural investigator Vanessa Van Edwards, this science is a one size fits all. It can be used in different situations whether professional or social.
According to Vanessa, the best conversationalists always set intentions for the conversation, and this helps against the awkward pauses in conversations.
So what you want to do before striking a conversation is to maybe determine what you want to achieve from it, whether it’s to get new business or establish authority, or just to build new connections, or to learn about a subject matter or someone, or you’re just there to have a good time. Setting your intentions help guide you. Have a plan, strategise.
According to research, our first impression doesn’t happen when we first hear someone, but when we first see them. So best to put your best foot forward, start your conversation with an approach. How do you do this?
It’s by having a nice open body language. Use your hands, smile, try not to look anxious.
The first thing you want to say according to Vanessa is “Hey, How are you?” This is natural, and helps get them ready for a conversation, and set the tone.
Compliments are great too, but you don’t want to start off immediately with that as it could be too intense. So first establish contact, and then you can follow up with introducing yourself.
the next thing according to Vanessa is conversation sparks. They are the non-verbal cues when you’re engaging curiosity. Things like the eyebrow raise, squinting, head movement, generally things that show your curiosity in the conversation. “Oohhh, okay? Seriously? Right?”... You know? Things like that.
So find topics or conversations that are strong enough to get the “Ohh’s, and really’s”, conversations of mutual interest.
the last impression according to Vanessa is as important as the first impression, because it’s the take home, it’s how people remember you.
Some routes to go when you want to end a conversation is “future mention”, ask what the rest of their day or week looks like, and of course without being invasive. This also helps to create an opening for future engagements.
Some bonus points are; keep yourself open, it can be by setting body languages that are welcoming and not dismissive. Get off your phone as well, if people see you engrossed on your phone, this can be a turn off and they wouldn’t just want to bother you. Plant yourself where people exit the bar or the food, primarily places that encourage conversations.