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How do I start a conversation when I don’t know what to say?

When I have something to say or an idea I don’t say it because the people who I’m with are still talking about theirs. And when I try to say my ideas I feel like they aren’t interested. When it all quiet and somehow awkward, how do I start a conversation when I have no idea what to say? #conversation #networking #communication #career


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Sam’s Answer

This is an excellent question, especially for someone like me. Naturally, you should introduce yourself. I am generally shy by nature and what I have done is utilize the environment as a opening for conversation based on where you are meeting someone. For example, if I am at an event (like a party), you could ask them how they know the host. Or if you are in school/classroom, you could ask their opinion on what the lesson was or subject. For me basically, I feed off of what they say and provide my opinion, thoughts, ideas, etc...


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Pam’s Answer

I like to compliment someone to start a conversation - like, nice shoes or you are an amazing speaker. Then you can follow it up w/something like, where'd you get your shoes or are you nervous at all when you speak? or really, just anything to continue the conversation.

Pam recommends the following next steps:

start noticing things about people you can comment on. give compliments to random strangers to practice. don't be shy and watch their face light up once you do it. then put that into practice when it counts.

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Roy’s Answer

I usually try to find something in common with the person I am trying to have the conversation with. I can talk to anyone and it usually starts with "How is your day?" I know it is scary at first to talk to people you don't know but it becomes easier with time. You might go to a Toastmasters meeting to learn about public speaking. This may help!


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Halcyone’s Answer

Hi Edelyn, Nice to virtually meet you. This is a great question and one that I get often. If this scenario is happening during team meetings, I suggest you schedule a meeting with your manager or team lead and let them know how you feel. Let them know that you really value the ideas and suggestions of your team members and that you have equally valuable information that you would like to contribute but you feel as though you are often spoken over or interrupted which makes you feel excluded. A good manager or leader would then do one of many things. He/she could create a meeting agenda that included the names of all employees on the team allowing each person to speak for 5 minutes on a topic of interest to them. They could also create a "meeting rules of conduct" which would outline the do's and don'ts of team meetings. If this scenario is playing out with co-workers by the water cooler or at lunch you can simply say " Oh that's a great idea have you thought about ..." or you might also try "Sorry to interrupt you but I had a similar idea" then you can share your idea(s). If this is happening with friends then honestly you should be able to say to your friends "I really value our friendship but when we talk, I don't always feel included"

Best wishes to you.


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Jennifer’s Answer

If you had a comment to something someone said before, then say "Person's name, you said <repeat what they said in summary> earlier, what about <put your thoughts here>?" By asking a question, you will elicit some sort of response. Try to build from there. Don't be shy, it takes time and practice. Also, work on being able to jump into a conversation. "Hey, I like that, what about <blah>" or "Have you thought about <this>?"

Jennifer recommends the following next steps:

Work on asking questions to people when you want to have a conversation.
Be brave and try to find a point in a conversation where you can jump in and practice this. It's a skill.

Thank you! Edelyn J.

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Lao’s Answer

I would smile, be friendly, and ask open-ended questions. Talk about something you have in common with them like the weather, sports, their outfits, or pets. If at a company event, you can ask which department they work in, how they like it, and try to network with people.


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Blessy’s Answer

Hi Edelyn,

Great question. I was never an introvert, but I was also not one to express my ideas publicly. The only way to overcome that is by doing it. It's a skill which you have to practice and build. For me, working in a corporate world helped a lot. Leading meetings and conducting training sessions helped me come out of my shell.

There are 2 scenarios here:
1. "When I have something to say or an idea I don’t say it because the people who I’m with are still talking about theirs. And when I try to say my ideas I feel like they aren’t interested."

First, never feel people aren't interested to hear your ideas. Don't be shy. Try to add humor to your conversations, and more importantly try to engage the people around you. If you engage them, you won't feel like they aren't listening.

2. "How do I start a conversation when I have no idea what to say?"

You can probably think ahead what you want to say, frame the sentence and start with - 'I liked what you said', or 'I agree with you', or 'But, what about?'. Also, if you have the same idea as the current speaker, (I am not saying interrupt people), but, during short pauses, you can excuse yourself, chime in a sentence, and give the floor back to the previous speaker.

Blessy recommends the following next steps:

If you have toastmasters in your college, I would highly suggest attending their meetings. I have seen plenty of my colleagues conversational skills improve after being a member.
Try talking to yourself in the mirror imagining that you are surrounded by people. That also helps to boost your confidence.

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