You’ve been there countless times. You walk into a networking event or social function and the first extroverted person drops the suspect questions we’ve all heard: What do you do? Where are you from? Predictable and exhausting as you run through the scripted answer in your head. The problem is, most of us are guilty of asking those dreaded, superficial questions that lead nowhere beyond the small talk.
Being the Most Interesting Person in the Room
Regardless of your personality type, there are several things we must do to have the kind of captivating conversations that will attract others to our social circle.
- Don’t drag on: Basically, make it a habit to be brief and get to the point.
- Talk faster: Speed up the tempo of your dialogue if you know you talk slowly and pause often to gather your thoughts or process your own thinking.
- Avoid polarizing topics: To make a great first impression and draw others to you, stay upbeat in conversation.
- Show your emotions: Avoid being serious or speaking in a monotone — display your emotions, laugh at people’s jokes, and be animated when telling your story.
- Be aware of body language: Smile at people, have an open and welcoming posture, make eye contact, nod your head to acknowledge understanding, and lean in to show interest.
- Be a giver, not a taker: Some people show up with a taker mentality–hoping to get something from someone, rather than to add value to the interaction and serve someone else without expectation.
- Approach every conversation with a growth-mindset: Come ready to learn from someone, rather than just your “wisdom” on the other person. Approach the conversation with an open mind and see the possibilities of engaging the interaction to grow and develop as a person.
5 Questions That Lead to Great Conversations
The key to creating meaningful interactions? Take your eyes off of yourself and place it on the other person. By giving them the attention first, you’ll have a clear edge: People are naturally wired and looking for connection and positive affirmation — to be seen and heard. And it all starts with asking the right questions.
1. Whats your story?
This open-ended question is bound to trigger something interesting after the other person gets over the initial shock that you asked it. By opening up a conversation in this manner, you’ve given them access to speak from their hearts and share their life’s journeys, dreams, and goals.
2. What makes you smile when you get up in the morning?
A great question that gets the interaction hopping on a positive note from the get-go. Watch the other person’s wheels turn as they reflect on something for which they’re excited or deeply grateful.
3. What is the one book that has influenced you the most?
The brilliance behind this question is not the question itself, but the invitation for follow-up questions because of the book’s impact on that person’s life, marriage, career, or business. Asking it deepens the conversation (and the connection) as you learn more about how the topic has positively altered that person’s life in some way. If they’re not avid readers, ask about movies or an influential person.
4. What absolutely excites you right now?
This question triggers passion. Who doesn’t like to speak from their most passionate space? It may end up being their thriving career, a new job, or an exciting new phase of their business. It could be personal: the arrival of a new baby, having beaten cancer or finding true love. Whatever it is, think of all the places the conversation will lead, and the possibilities of connecting the dots with the other person when it’s your turn to shine.
5. Whats the most important thing I could know about you?
In line with all the others, this question will elicit emotions to deepen the conversation and find connecting points. That’s what you’re after — creating space to discover what makes the other person tick, unique, or maybe frustrated so you can offer encouragement or make a difference in their life.
Did you notice a pattern? It should be obvious. Here’s a hint: You take the initiative and make the conversation about the other person. People love to talk about themselves. This selfless act of putting the spotlight on someone else makes you the most interesting person in the room.