TALK TO ANYONE, ANYTIME - Con Koutsikas Public Speaking and Communication Trainer and Coach


Do you ever feel awkward during conversations with work colleagues, clients or even acquaintances and family?  Do you get a little anxious when you’re thinking about a party or a networking event that you really should be attending?  Do you have a lack of confidence in these situations?

Well, don’t panic.  Firstly, you are no orphan, many people feel uncomfortable while trying to form a connection but importantly there are some simple strategies to help you talk to anyone at any time.

Ask Meaningful Questions.

Sometimes the other person may be feeling exactly the same way.  See if you can draw out conversation by asking questions that are open ended i.e. they require more than a yes or no answer.  Instead of asking “Did you enjoy your recent trip?” try “Tell me about the best parts of your trip you recently took”.    Also, ask them what they think about a topic or recent event.

Be Sincere in Your Interest in the Other Person.

Dale Carnegie said it well.  “It’s much easier to become interested in others than it is to convince them to be interested in you.”  When you’re engaged in conversation, be present, don’t be thinking about what chores you have to do or where else you need to be.  Show a genuine interest in the other person and invariably, they’ll reciprocate.


If you’re about meet someone in particular, whether it’s a potential new client or an important networking connection, doing some research on that person will be extremely beneficial.  Finding out their interests, likes and dislikes gives you plenty to talk about and at the same time topics to avoid!  Research is so easy nowadays with social media.  Linked In is a great tool as is Facebook.  By the way, I’m not advocating on line stalking!!!

Be Complimentary

The saying goes, “It’s nice to be nice.”  There is always a reason to say something nice, and no better way to attract the undivided attention of someone than to issue a genuine, flattering remark.  It’s not hard to find something to compliment.  Try appearance, clothes, hair or home just as a few suggestions.


This is one of my favourites.  I read once, “You were given two ears and one mouth, use them in those proportions.”  Listening is a real skill and a big part of successful communication is responding appropriately so how can you do that if you didn’t hear the previous comment?  Another benefit to listening more than talking is you’ll probably learn something.  After all, you already know what you know.  “Whatever your grade or position, if you know how and when to speak, and when to remain silent, your chances of real success are proportionally increased”.   Great words from Ralph C.Smedley.

Keep Up to Date With Current Events and Issues.

When it comes to one on one communication, it is better to know a little about a lot of things rather than a lot about one or two things.  In fact, it’s often that people who have just one area of expertise and interest are the dullest conversationalists.

Avoid Debates

It’s ok to have some friendly banter and discussions but you need to avoid these turning nasty.  Everyone is entitled to their view, you don’t have to agree with them.  It’s generally a good rule to stay away from historically volatile subjects typically religion and politics.  “I don’t agree with you but I’ll defend till death, your right to say it”.  Evelyn Beatrice Hall.  Also a great tool in avoiding debates is eliminate using but.  But is one of the most powerful words in the English language.  It completely negates everything the user said previously.  “He is a good golfer but…”  What you’re really saying he isn’t a good golfer at all!  Use the more gentle and instead.  “He is a good golfer and if he spent more time on the practice green he could be a great golfer”.

Use Humour and Smile

There is nothing more inviting than a warm, genuine smile. Smile when you meet and greet a person and it gets the interaction of to a great start.  A natural, friendly smile will lighten up a conversation and make the other person feel comfortable, relaxed and so more likely to converse in an open and authentic way.  Humour goes a long way, tasteful humour that is!  Funny brief stories are a great way to build rapport.  Potentially offensive and distasteful jokes you heard at a bucks party should be avoided as this could kill the conversation on the spot.

It’s been said your network equals your net worth.  In context of this article, net worth is more than money.  It represents experiences and human connection.  In my younger years, I avoided uncomfortable situations like the plague!  I refused to go events and parties either on my or where I didn’t know someone that would be there.  I made a choice to challenge myself and step out of my comfort zone and using these really simple hints changed my life.

I hope they have a positive impact on yours.

We look forward to your comments, feedback and any questions you may have to help you become not only a better conversationalist but a better speaker and communicator.

Until next week, my name is Con and I am The Con Versationalist.


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