Hello, everyone. I'd like to start with a question. How many of you are already familiar with the person seated next to you? Quite interesting. Now, let's recall your very first conversation with that person. Think of conversations as building blocks; every conversation is like a tiny metal link. When you converse with someone, you create a new link. With each subsequent conversation, that link becomes stronger. Each day, we interact with numerous strangers, from the grocery store clerk to a taxi driver or even a receptionist at a new workplace. These interactions create new links. Eventually, we construct a vast World Wide Web of conversations, just like the internet. Speaking of the World Wide Web, it's a term we've all heard before, right? That's it! A conversation is indeed a remarkable thing. A conversation is an adventure, offering fresh perspectives and opening doors. Conversations have the power to start conflicts or make peace, ultimately defining our shared human experience.
Consider this: every person in your life was once a stranger until you had your first conversation with them. You knew nothing about them until that initial interaction. I'm here today to encourage you to talk to strangers, to engage in conversations. I'll also share seven ways to have a conversation with almost anyone.
I'm a radio presenter, and I genuinely enjoy conversing with people. It's a privilege that I get to do this for a living. Here's what my daily routine looks like: every morning, I step into an empty room, put on a microphone, and converse with 1.6 million people that I can't see. Yes, it's quite a unique challenge. In a four-hour show, I have only 20 minutes to connect with my audience, and I aim to leave a smile on their faces. The real challenge is that I can't see or know anything about my listeners, making it difficult to gauge their reactions. So, how can you talk to strangers? Through my nine years in radio, I've learned several simple tricks that I'd like to share.
Strangers are everywhere, and we're often advised not to talk to them. But I believe every stranger offers an opportunity: a chance to learn something new, have a unique experience, or hear an unheard story. Have you ever been in a room with someone you didn't know but felt the desire to talk to them? The first word can be challenging to say. It often gets stuck in your throat. My advice: just say it. What's the worst that can happen? Maybe they want to talk to you, and right now, they're not. The first word acts as a floodgate – once it's out, the rest flows naturally. Keep it simple with a "Hi," "Hey," or "Hello." Gather enthusiasm, positivity, and wear a big smile while saying it.
Time is a significant challenge. In a 90-second radio segment, I have to make the conversation memorable. The biggest challenge is avoiding time-wasting small talk like "Hi," "How are you?" "I'm fine," "What's going on?" "Nothing much," and "Same old." My advice is to skip small talk and ask a personal question. Don't be afraid; people are often willing to share when asked personal questions. Ask about their name, its origins, or how long they've lived in a particular place. I often ask cab drivers where they come from, leading to fascinating conversations.
The next step is finding common ground. Avoid negative statements, as they can kill a conversation. Try to find something in common with the other person, no matter how trivial. Starting from common ground makes the conversation flow more easily. Compliments are a powerful tool. Give a genuine and unique compliment – not something generic. People remember how you make them feel, so be generous with compliments.
Asking for an opinion is another effective technique. People want their opinions heard and validated. It opens a two-way street for communication, and it helps you understand the person better. Keep the question simple and generic. Also, be present in the conversation, listen actively, and make eye contact. Eye contact is where the magic happens; it enhances the connection.
Lastly, remember details about the person, like their name, places they like, their pet's name, and what they enjoy. When you remember these details and show genuine interest, you invest in their well-being, making them more inclined to continue the conversation.
In conclusion, a conversation is like reading a book. You can choose any page, chapter, or duration you like. Every person is like a good book, and it's disheartening to reduce our lives to 140 characters and catchy headlines. We're not abridged versions but complete human stories. We should demand more from our interactions with each other. So, when you enter this grand library we call the world, will you browse titles or pick up a book, open it, and start reading a story? The choice is yours. Thank you. (Applause)