8 Tips to Make Your Holiday Small Talk Big!

How can you make the most of small talk during this busy time of year?  Build relationships that build business? What is the secret to captivating conversations? How can you remember names?

Holiday parties and business events provide people with many opportunities to build relationships, if they realize how to strategically use small talk.

8 Tips for Connecting with Small Talk

1.  Act like a host, not a guest

Take on the active role of a host, even if you are not the actual host.  Introduce yourself to people and introduce them to others.  Let people know where to find the food and drinks.

2.  Maintain a “Mona Lisa” smile as your default expression.  Instead of keeping your mouth in a neutral position (which actually looks more negative than neutral), try to keep a small, half smile ready to burst into a grin or even an open-mouthed laugh.  Nothing says “I’m friendly, open and non-critical,” like a smile!

3.  Pick your position.  The best places to network are the high traffic areas–the entrance, the food table, or the bar.  Move away from the high traffic areas for longer conversations.

4.  Repeat, repeat, repeat to remember names.  As soon as someone says his or her name, mentally repeat it a few times.  Repeat the name in conversation:  “So, what type of business are you in, Jim?”  Later, while names are fresh in your mind, write them down in a notebook or on the back of a business card, along with any pertinent or identifying information.

5.  Use “See and Say” to start conversations.  If you can both see it, you can comment on it.  “The food looks really good!”  Common ground is the basis for small talk.

6.  Listen reflectively.  Listening is not just waiting for your turn to talk.  Reflect back by paraphrasing, summarizing or asking for clarification.  “Tell me more about that.”

7.  Wear a conversation piece– a piece of jewelry or an interesting tie, for example.  It helps other people initiate conversation with you and gives you the opportunity to tell the interesting story behind the item.

8.  Face your conversation partners to make sure they can use facial movements to discern meaning.  Hearing impairment has increased over the years, even among young people.  One in five teenagers has hearing loss (August 2010, Journal of the American Medical Association).  One of the biggest things you can do to enhance conversation with people who have hearing loss is simply to make sure you face them while you are talking.

Use holiday parties and events to hone your small talk skills!


About Diane Windingland
I speak for organizations that want their people to have better, more profitable conversations.

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