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How to Keep a Conversation Going With Confidence

These conversational hacks can help you form more meaningful connections.

Are you looking for ways to keep a conversation going? Our direct, actionable guide removes the guesswork with practical tips for sustaining engaging discussions. Dive in and find easy-to-apply techniques that work in real-life interactions. Whether you're at a networking event, on a first date, or simply chatting with a friend, we're bringing you the tools you need to keep the dialogue flowing and ensure that you're never left searching for words.

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Key Takeaways

  • Nonverbal cues, mutual interests, and active listening are foundational to building meaningful relationships and maintaining engaging conversations.
  • Keep a conversation going by crafting engaging questions, effectively following up, and having conversation starters on hand to avoid awkward silences.
  • Advanced conversational skills include reading and responding to nonverbal signals, using storytelling, adapting to social dynamics, and mastering digital communications.

The Art of Sustaining Conversations

Good conversation skills are key to building meaningful relationships, whether you're at a networking event or a casual catch-up with friends. They pave the way to personal growth by enhancing self-awareness and decision-making abilities.

They also promote professional growth by building trust, fostering creativity, and improving performance. With that, it's time to explore the pillars that hold a productive conversation: body language, mutual interests, and active listening.

two men having a conversation at work – Yuri A/Shutterstock

The Role of Body Language

Ever notice how sometimes words are just not enough? That's where body language comes into play. Nonverbal cues such as facial expressions and gestures significantly impact in-person conversations, indicating interest and engagement. Maintaining eye contact, adopting relaxed postures, and mirroring nonverbal signs can strengthen the connection and demonstrate attentiveness. So remember, it's not just what you say, but how you say it that matters.

Building on Mutual Interests

We've all bonded with someone over a shared love for a TV series, a sport, or even a favorite food. That kind of common ground almost always invites engaging exchange. It gets you excited about what you're talking about and helps foster a sense of trust. Combined, those factors make dialogue feel way more natural and less like a task.

Listening as a Foundation

Ever had a conversation where you felt truly heard? That's the power of active listening. It's not just about hearing the words but understanding the emotions and nuances behind them. By prioritizing listening over speaking and showing attentiveness, a more natural flow of dialogue is maintained. With that, remember: the next time you find yourself in a conversation, don't forget to lend an ear.

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6 Steps for How to Keep a Conversation Going

So, you've started a conversation, but how do you keep it going? There are a few strategies for continuous engagement, from well-crafted questions to following up effectively or arming yourself with a few choice conversation starters. Let's explore.

three mature women having coffee together at the cafe – Yuri A/Shutterstock

1. Crafting Engaging Questions

Well-crafted, open-ended questions invite the other person to share more information, dive deeper into the conversation, and stay engaged. By asking questions that require more than a yes or no response, you encourage the other party to elaborate on their thoughts and feelings. This not only keeps the initial conversation flowing but also signals your genuine curiosity about what they have to say.

2. The Power of Follow-Up

Have you ever had a conversation where every statement you made was met with thoughtful follow-up questions or a related story? It doesn't happen often, but it's often transformative when it does. This kind of engagement shows that you're not just physically present, but also mentally invested in the conversation.

3. Conversation Starters That Work

Thoughtful conversation starters can help things flow smoothly, transforming what might have been trivial small talk into a more meaningful exchange. If the conversation does start falling flat, then these ice-breakers can also help turn things around; pulling you out of an awkward silence and into a deeper dialogue.

4. Reading and Responding to Nonverbal Signals

While verbal exchanges provide the structure of a conversation, it's the nonverbal elements that really breathe life into it. Learning to read body language helps us pick up on important social cues and understand real feelings. Subtly mirroring and verbal cues enhance connection, making the person feel more at ease and the interactions more persuasive. Some examples of nonverbal signals to pay attention to include:

  • Facial expressions
  • Eye contact
  • Posture
  • Gestures
  • Tone of voice

5. Storytelling as a Tool

Do you remember the stories your grandparents told you better than the facts you learned in school? That's because stories engage our senses and emotions, making the conversation more engaging. An effective story during a conversation is marked by clear structuring, with a recognizable beginning, conflict, and resolution, and is delivered with attention-grabbing hooks and emotional resonance to maintain engagement.

6. Navigating Social Dynamics

Conversation styles typically change depending on whether you're talking to a friend, a colleague, or a stranger. Adapting your communication style to fit your audience is crucial for effective interaction in various social situations. Being sensitive to the other person's reactions and adjusting tone and word choice as needed can significantly enhance a conversation.

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How to Keep a Conversation Going Online

In today's digital world, mastering the art of online communication is crucial for building strong relationships. From maintaining your presence in virtual spaces to adapting to text-based conversations, let's explore how we can effectively navigate conversations in the digital realm.

woman having a conversation with a man over Zoom

1. Maintaining Presence in Virtual Spaces

Entering virtual spaces with a clear understanding of the meeting's content and participants is crucial for maintaining your presence. Communicating effectively at the start, middle, and end of a virtual meeting helps in guiding participants and acknowledging their contributions. Reacting and responding to messages promptly also shows that you are actively engaged and interested in the conversation.

2. Adapting to Text-Based Conversations

One of the biggest challenges to texting is realizing a message might be received in a completely different way than you intended. Mastering the use of written language and tone is crucial for effective communication in this format due to the absence of nonverbal cues.

Fortunately, there are a few tricks we can adopt along the way for a more successful interaction. Emojis, for example, can help convey tone and intent, making up for the lack of nonverbal cues. Punctuation and capitalization can also help emphasize your excitement over a certain statement or idea. And if all else fails, then don't be afraid to follow up with your conversation partner for clarity.

3. Creating Meaningful Connections Online

Personalization is the key to creating meaningful connections online. Highlighting shared experiences and personalizing messages makes people feel valued, which powerfully influences their desire to remain engaged. So, the next time you're connecting with someone online, remember to add that personal touch.

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How to Overcome Conversational Challenges

We've all seen conversations go south. Whether it's handling difficult topics, dealing with social anxiety, or ensuring everyone is heard, conversations can sometimes be challenging, and not everyone is equipped to overcome those obstacles. So, let's check out a few different ways to navigate them.

woman looking angry while two friends talk at the table
MDV Edwards/Shutterstock

Handling Difficult Topics

It's crucial to structure difficult discussions with clear boundaries and objectives. If you're getting into more controversial territory, it might be helpful to establish a set of ground rules at the outset, such as agreeing to listen without interrupting, acknowledging different viewpoints, and staying focused on the topic at hand.

Have strategies in place to keep the conversation flowing if you do hit a snag. This might involve redirecting to a related but less contentious subject or taking a short break to allow everyone to gather their thoughts. By doing so, you can avoid the conversation stalling out or, worse, escalating into an argument.

Dealing with Social Anxiety

Ever felt nervous about starting a conversation? That's social anxiety creeping in. Having scripted ice-breakers at hand can alleviate this stress. Another thing to keep in mind is that being genuine in conversations is essential for forming a true connection, which might alleviate your stress. So, the next time you're feeling anxious about a conversation, take a deep breath and remember to be yourself!

Ensuring Everyone Is Heard

Ensuring a balanced give-and-take in conversation is critical for equal participation and maintaining the flow of dialogue. Being an active facilitator during discussions can help manage dynamics and ensure that the discussion remains purposeful and inclusive.

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Enhancing Your Conversational Practice

Now that we've covered the basics and some advanced techniques, let's talk about getting even better at conversation. This involves learning from skilled conversationalists, reflecting on past interactions, and practicing with peers.

two men laughing and talking at the cafe

Learning From Great Conversationalists

Ever admired someone for their effortless conversational skills? That's the hallmark of a great conversationalist. Observing such individuals can provide valuable insights into effective conversation techniques. They balance speaking and listening perfectly and use nonverbal cues effectively. So, the next time you're in a conversation with a pro, try to observe, learn, and emulate these techniques!

Reflecting on Past Interactions

We've all spent some time replaying conversations in our minds, thinking about what we could have said differently. That's called reflection, a process that allows us to identify patterns and draw insights to enhance future dialogues. The next time you find yourself thinking about a previous conversation, remember that it's not just about dwelling on the past but about learning for the future.

Regular Practice with Peers

Remember the old adage, "Practice makes perfect?" Well, it applies to conversations, too. Practicing storytelling in a safe, low-pressure environment with friends or colleagues helps build confidence and allows refinement of your narrative.


Why is mastering the art of conversation important?

Mastering the art of conversation is important because it enhances personal and professional growth through improved self-awareness, decision-making, trust-building, creativity, and performance.

How can I maintain a presence in virtual spaces?

To maintain a presence in virtual spaces, understand the meeting's content and participants, communicate effectively throughout the meeting, and acknowledge contributions from participants. This will help you stay engaged and connected in virtual settings.

How can I handle difficult topics in a conversation?

When facing a difficult conversation, it's crucial to establish clear boundaries and objectives to maintain focus and direction. This will ensure the discussion stays on track.

How can I deal with social anxiety in conversations?

Prepare some scripted icebreakers and try to be genuine in your conversations. This can help alleviate stress and yield stronger connections with others.

How can I ensure everyone is heard in a conversation?

To ensure everyone is heard in a conversation, you must actively facilitate discussions and manage dynamics. This allows for equal participation and maintains a purposeful and inclusive dialogue.

Wrapping Up

Whether it's observing body language, finding mutual interests, asking engaging questions, or telling a captivating story, every technique plays its part in enhancing your conversation skills. Remember, each conversation you have is an opportunity for learning and growth. So, go forth and converse. The world is waiting to hear what you have to say!

Carrie Weisman
Carrie Weisman oversees all SEO efforts at Best Life. She specializes in content optimization and editorial marketing. Read more
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