In chapter 5 of the book “The Art of Conversation: A guided tour of a neglected pleasure” by Catherine Blyth, she offers advice and insight on some good topics of conversation that could be tailored to fit nearly any situation you find yourself engaged in. It’s worth a read if you find that at times you find yourself brining up topics that bring others to silence or if you just find that you don’t particularly have much to say when someone speaks to you randomly.
I’ve found that one of the best ways to carry conversations without actively thinking about it, is to read in your free time about different things that interest YOU. Reading different things is important so that you are knowledgeable of a broad range of topics that will help you interact with a diverse crowd of individuals.
Maybe you recently over heard someone mention to another person a topic that caught your attention, but one that you didn’t know much about. Write it down if your memory isn’t all that great. Make time to come back to the topic and possibly read a short article or book on it. Keep your curiosity fed. It will pay off in the long run. And with information so readily available in this generation, from smart phones to internet, you have no excuse to keep yourself in the dark on matters that peak your curiosity.
If you find your attention span to not be sufficiently long enough for reading long books, that can be overcome in a variety of ways.
1) You don’t have to read everything in one sitting. Read a little, mark your stopping point, and come back to it later.
2) Audiobooks. A great tool. I use these at work often because I work with my hands so putting on a pair of headphones and listening to a book allows me the ability to stay abreast of new stories while not wasting time at work.
3) YouTube. There are some very helpful videos posted on YouTube. In a matter of minutes, you can learn how to do something or even just be brought up to speed on topics with the click of a mouse.
4) Visit a news website. Better yet, why not set it as a homepage on your web browser? You will be forced to see things happening in the world. Then you won’t feel completely lost if someone comes up to you and asks “have you heard about *insert recent major event*?” Even if you haven’t read about it, you can at least respond with something along the lines of “I recall seeing that in the news, but I didn’t get all the facts. Can you tell me more about it?”
If you do read about current events, they could be great conversation starters if you bring them up and someone would like to be briefed on it. That could be your chance to shine. You don’t have to remember every miniscule detail, but enough to give a general overview and maybe even throw in any relevant thoughts you have on the topic/event/issue.
Have fun with these things when reading and speaking about them. People tend to engage the conversation much more when the person speaking is obviously passionate about the topic in which they are speaking on.