Speaking with Confidence in Social Settings

Speaking with confidence in social settings can be made easier by developing your conversational skills. Having plenty of subjects to talk about is a great help, especially when you might be feeling under pressure to either initiate or contribute to a conversation. Knowing you have this resource helps you feel more confident.

If this is your particular area of difficulty you may wish to make a list of topics you could talk about without too much effort.

"....... And what do you do?"

In the UK and probably in many other western countries, the opening gambit, after finding out a person's name, is often "and what do you do?" Remember that the answer can embrace all forms of occupation which includes hobbies, activities, clubs or societies you may belong to. List everything you could speak with confidence about.

If your response is "but I've got nothing to talk about except work", you may have to put some energy into creating a lifestyle that you can talk about!

"Have you heard about.......?"

Taking a regular newspaper or magazine can provide you with many topics to talk about. Following current affairs and sports results keeps you informed and able to respond when others refer to the news. Reading a book on a subject you know little about can be stimulating and provide fodder for conversation.

Finding one or two interesting facts or figures, or a suitable joke or anecdote can spice things up, but if you are like me and always forget the punch line, don't do jokes! Speaking with confidence is easier when you are suitably prepared so spend some time beforehand planning what you might talk about.

Where you've been, what you've done... Draw on your experiences

Holidays, trips and other personal experiences are great subjects for conversation. These can be made even more interesting by using adjectives and words to describe emotions you felt at the time. Highlight one or two details and say a bit more about these to give brightness to the account.

Do not think you have to produce clever, witty conversation or be a great story-teller. Although conversational skill may include these, it certainly does not depend on them. It is perfectly all right to describe the day you just had or to talk about your cat or car. You may find you hit on just the thing your listener can empathise with and respond to.

"What do you think about.......?"

Social interaction is not one-way traffic. Speaking with confidence is one thing, but remember to leave space for the other person to contribute or invite them to comment. Don't be afraid if there are a few seconds of silence here and there. If you don't panic they will pass easily. Asking one or two questions can get the ball rolling again.

Questions that require more than a 'yes' or 'no' answer enable your partner in conversation to speak for longer. You might ask about his or her experiences, their opinion or recommendations on any suitable subject. This expresses interest and warms your listener.

Get out there and practise!

Practise talking to other people - the man in the supermarket queue, the woman walking her dog, the teenager across the road. Develop the habit of talking with the people you come across every day, and you'll soon be speaking with confidence when you are in a social gathering. Use your friends to practise on, perhaps saying more in conversations than you normally do, introducing new and untried topics or trying out an anecdote.

You can learn more from the section on self confidence skills which includes tips on how to communicate with confidence.

As you begin speaking with confidence you will become aware that there are others beside yourself who lack confidence and who find social conversation a challenge. Once you have had the experience of putting someone else at their ease, social discourse will never seem so difficult again!

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