The essence of kickstarting a conversation in English

G’day, how you going mate? Today, I am going to talk about the essence of kickstarting a conversation in English. It’s not really easy to overcome a sort of nerve-racking moment when you need to talk to someone in English. Of course, you’ve got to have sufficient English language skills such as grammar and vocabularies. This time I am not going to talk about English skills themselves, but rather strategies as to how to begin. Let’s explain!

① Opening a conversation

It’s very simple and straightforward, but this is deceptively the hardest part of kickstarting a conversation in English. Of course, there’s no perfect way to start a conversation, but what I can suggest that you be yourself and be confident. I know it depends upon circumstances such as where you are, what you have in common with the people around you, right? However, the essence will almost exactly the same as any type of conversation. That is, a plain greeting. It can hardly be seen like starting a conversation without a greeting. Needless to say, you will probably start a greeting first. What and how?

There are several typical openings I can think of. For instance, you’d want to compliment the guy to whom you’re about to talk on something like fashion. (e.g., Hi, I like your suit, it’s very elegant, where did you get it?)

Another thing you might want to say is weather. (e.g., Hi, it’s so chilly this morning, how are you coping with the cold? I’m actually sick of this nippy temperature. Is it always like this here in winter?)

Something like that. Simple and straightforward is the best for sure.

② Look around you

After greeting, you might already be stuck? If so, no worries mate. You just look around you like scenery from windows if you are inside. If you are outside, there should be heaps of things that you could describe. Or you may as well talk about your interest, the latest news or something. Just talk about a small thing that you might think it’s easier to describe.

(e.g., By the way, have you seen yesterday’s AFL final on telly? It was really awesome!)

③ Take the initiative in starting a conversation

While you are describing or talking about something relating to something around you, your interest or the latest news, you should simultaneously think about how to take the initiative in starting a main conversation. Your small talk won’t last that long, I reckon. You might want to get the jump on a conversation before someone is going to be the first mover, because otherwise you’re likely to become just a listener, and you’ll lose an opportunity at an event or something. This is surely the key to seize just a handful of opportunity. Don’t miss out! Ok, how?

(e.g., Excuse me sir, I just overheard you talking about travelling to Japan. I’m actually from Japan, so I’m just curious about where you went and what you did there. May we talk about this with you now?)

④ Continue to talk

Just have one topic is a bit hard for you to continue to talk. Continuation is the key to sucess in conversation. To do so, what you’ve got to think about is how your talk relates to your interest or something. What do I mean by this? Well, if you were talking about travelling to Japan, you need to relate this to your latest hobby such as cycling, climbing mountains, bird-watching, etc. Because you might still want to take the initiative in continuing the conversation with the other person. So you sort of try to find the easiest subtopic to continue to talk. How?

(e.g., I’ve been considering I’d like to travel to Japan next year. And, I’d like to try out climbing Mt. Fuji, because I’m kind of an avid fan of mountains, you know. So…)

⑤ Ask questions and respond to the answers

Definitely, asking some basic or specific questions about the other person if you want to make your conversation successful. You’ve got to show your interest in the other person and their thoughts or ideas, because not really interesting and never fun if you just keep talking about yourself. To avoid this situation, you could ask a simple question to keep the conversation going nicely and comfortably. But how?

(e.g., What do you reckon about Mt. Fuji? You said you climbed there twice, didn’t you? What was your overall experience of climbing there? What do you like about mountains in general? )

⑥ Closing the conversation

It’ll be great if you could end the conversation in a nice and comfortable manner. Typically, you want to say thank to the other person to whom you talked, and tell them if you have had fun. Just say in a simple way is always awesome! How do you say?

(e.g., Right, I should let you get back to what you were doing, and I’ve also gotta go now, but thanks for the fantastic chat with you! It’s great to hear your thoughts about Mt. Fuji. I’ll have to try out climbing there next year.)

That’s all for today. Thanks for reading!

Have a good one mate!

Published by Masato Kawaguchi

I am an English entrepreneur here in Australia. I've been teaching the PTE exam for the last 2 years or so, now mainly general English online.

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