“And I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.” ― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
I meet new people at my studio daily, I’ve taught classes to packed conference rooms, and I've delivered a TEDx Talk to a crowd of hundreds.
I am the boss at planned classes, events, and conversations, literally, becasue I'm usually organizing the event these days! Yet for a long time, just the idea of attending a cocktail party or a networking event where I had to “just be myself” paralyzed me.
I lost confidence in myself during my 20's and 30's after getting sick and a string of poor relationships. I forgot that I had something valuable to offer other people, that I was just as interesting as the next person, and that I had my own amazing story to share with the world, or at least with a few fellow party-goers.
I found my voice and I want you to find yours.
Use these three conversation tips to help take the pit out of your stomach and find your voice.
Pro-networkers know that there is always more to listen to than to say. Asking questions puts the other person at ease because you’re giving that person permission to talk about her favorite expert subject: herself!
If you want to be interesting, you must first be interested. When you ask questions, genuinely listen to the response. Take your focus (and your worries) off of yourself and fully engage in the speaker. People have amazing stories bursting to be told! An interested crowd is receptive and cultivates a safe space for sharing ideas, creating experiences, and forging connections.
Surely you find something nice to say about the event, the decor, the food, the outfit your new acquaintance is wearing, or anything else within your current proximity. Make sure the complement is personal, heartfelt, honest, and ideally, something you are actually interested in, so you open the door on common ground for meaningful conversation.
Summer is around the corner where you'll have no shortage of garden parties, graduations, showers, and fundraising affairs. Use these failsafe conversation starters and buckle up your party shoes. You may not transform into the life of the next party you attend, but at least you can confidently contribute to the festivities!