How to Talk to People

Make no mistake about it: in today’s world, knowing how to talk to people is one of the most important virtues you can possess.

If you don’t know how to talk to people it’s hard to make friends, build a social life, grab the interest of the opposite sex or get ahead in your career. But if you do, a whole lot of prospects open up in your life.

The best news I can offer you, based on 5+ years of experience as a social confidence coach, is that you can learn how to talk to people. Good conversation has principles. Know them, apply them repeatedly in social situations, and you’ll drastically boost your conversation skills.

In this article I’d like to share with you these principles and reveal the workings of good conversation. The rest is up to you.

Part1: The Conversation Formula

Basically, there are 3 major components of conversation: 1) asking questions, 2) disclosing information, and 3) changing topics. Do these 3 things right, and you’ll be able to talk to people in all sorts of social settings.

Let’s take a better look at each one of these 3 components and see how you can apply them effectively in conversation.

Step 1: Asking Questions

Questions are the best conversational tool you have to get the other person to share information and engage in the conversation. Thus, you get to know them and their subjective world.

Many books and articles on making small talk will give you lists of questions to use in conversation and encourage you to memorize them. I disagree with this approach entirely.

I believe questions work best when they are genuine, when they reflect an authentic curiosity you have. If you just ask about something because you think you should, but you don’t really care about it, that will usually show.

When you’re having a chat with someone, my advice is to always think about what you honestly want to know about the other person. Then ask questions based on this.

I, for instance, am very interested in people’s careers. So I often ask people I just met “What do you do?” But if you don’t really care about this stuff, by all means, don’t ask about it. Employ your own questions.

Step 2: Sharing Information

A common mistake  that individuals who don’t comprehend how to talk to people make is they ask lots of questions to get the other person to share information, but they don’t share information themselves.

Thus, they end up bombarding their conversation partner with question after question, and the entire discussion feels more like an interrogatory.

A quality conversation combines receiving information with giving information. Even if the other person doesn’t ask you a lot of questions, don’t be afraid to disclose yourself and to share information.

For instance, if I’m on a train and the person next to me is reading a book, and I want to start a conversation with them, I might ask them “What are you reading?” After they tell me the name of the book, I might ask them “What’s it about?”

But after they answer, I usually won’t ask yet another question. Instead, I’ll make a comment apropos what they said about the book, something simple and genuine, and then I’ll tell them a bit about a book I’ve read recently and I enjoyed.

So I’ll combine asking questions with sharing information. This is what makes a conversation work.

Step 3: Changing Topics

A 5-minute conversation can be on a single topic. But long conversations typically need to go through several topics. If you want to have long conversations, which tend to build the deepest connections with people, it’s important to move it from one topic to another.

When you feel the topic you’re discussing is drying out, don’t let the conversation die. Move it to another topic.

My rule of thumb is to try and keep the topics related. For example, after I talked with a person about books for a few minutes, it makes sense to move the conversation to movies, because it’s a related topic. And from one connect topic to another, I can take the conversation anywhere.

However, it is absolutely fine if you sometimes make big shifts in the conversation subject. For example, you move from books to “So, what do you do for a living?” That’s also a normal part of conversation. Just don’t do it every 30 seconds.

By asking questions, sharing information and changing topics, you effectively make a conversation happen. You get to know the other person, they get to know you, you cover a range of topics, and you connect with each other.

The truth is basic conversation isn’t exactly rocket science.

However, I can tell you there are plenty of people who, even after they understand these principles thoroughly, still have a hard time talking to others. Add it’s not a problem related to lack of knowledge, it’s a problem related to conversation confidence.

Part 2: Building Conversation Confidence

You can have questions to ask, yet not ask them because you fret you’ll come across as rude or impertinent. You can have things to say but not say them because you fear they’re not interesting. And you can have topics you want to talk about but not do so because you worry you’ll make a fool of yourself somehow.

You see, knowing how to talk to people and being able to talk to people are two very different things.

You can understand the rules and principles, but if you have fears like the ones I mentioned (which are usually unfounded), you’ll hesitate, you won’t say very much, you’ll stumble over your words when you do, and your conversations will still be sloppy.

The only solution to this problem is to overcome your limiting beliefs and build conversation confidence. This transformation is what you should focus on above all.

Since this is a huge subject, I have created a special presentation in which I’m gonna teach you how to do this. Check it out here and learn the secrets of conversation confidence.

Then take the know-how gained from it and make use of it in your own life.

When you have positive beliefs about yourself and you’re confident, you don’t second-guess yourself, you instinctively know what to say, you are natural and you are willing to take risks in social interactions.

At the end of the day, this is what gives you the ability to talk to people effortlessly and build the relationships you want with others.

Image courtesy of Brandon Christopher Warren


  1. Um idk how to start this off but I’ve been having trouble keeping a conversation going and sometimes I dont know How to start one off. I’ve been through all your articles from how to start a conversation and conversation confedence and conversation topics etc… And I’m still having it of trouble keeping a conversation going aleven over text and it’s literally making me depressed/sad and I stay up at night going through your pages and other articles, I just really need help and I don’t know who to ask for help or who I can talk to about it. 😔

  2. You could try by educating yourself immensely on stuff your interested in so you could be become an authority or expert on the subject. For example, astrology. This makes you a more interesting person who never runs out of interesting things to say! Until you change the subject of course. Just remember, you got to be a friend to gain a friend!

  3. I have trouble speaking to people with confidence.Whether at school or a party I always think that they already don’t like me. I have a very bland voice, but I’m friendly, every time I try to talk to someone I feel like I’m boring them or they don’t want to talk anymore. So I smile and excuse myself and walk away. When I get the courage to talk to them again, they avoid me or talk to someone else and they seem to carry a conversation much longer than I did a few minutes before.

  4. I don’t know if it’s just me but I feels awkward when talking to people and I prefer being quiet. But honestly, I really want to talk to people and get along well with my classmates and the people around me. The problem is I don’t know what to talk to them. I have a twin sister and she is exactly opposite of me. She is friendly and talks a lot while I’m just awkward and quiet.

  5. pat borek says:

    watch Bone s it s basically about a cop and a person like doctor specialist in bone’s
    lady and of cop who is a man dective and there involved in cases of murders and by DNA samples of there blood traces on bone part s they solve who the person that murdered the other person is who killed the person in the show so a mystery show.
    How to solve the plot of the story. Pretty interesting. If you like Cubs playing baseball another game on tv channel we watch to watch the pitcher in the out field who is starring in the game and get to know his real name. Like on the twins. Vs the White Soxs here in Illinois. Some teams we watch here. I like the Cubs uniforms for instance and how they play the game.

  6. Okay I’m a guy and have always been quiet in social situations however very recently I have made a huge leap in gaining confidence and talking to people. To start off I have a deep passion for protecting other humans and care for people greatly and take interest in this. I think this helped me a lot so I would advise taking an interest in other people so you are engaged in them. However this alone didn’t stop my shyness. I gained confidence when I went to USA and saw an old time friend. He is a very confident guy who can talk to anyone. I copied the way he would just approach people and discover things about them. Being from UK the Canadians love me, I can literally talk to any of them and they’re interested in what I have to say. This gave me a great deal of confidence and when I applied it back home it worked exactly the same! I realised it wasn’t the accent itself which made me better at speaking to people it was that I felt more confident knowing my accent was an aid. When I got back home I went out to some clubs with a few mates and I would approach any woman which looked available (this massively shocked my friends). I took an interest in these women and got rejected by none, I had great conversations with all. I even got offered to dance by a pretty girl who just randomly came up to me at the end of the night!! (Has never happened in my life before). Could’ve easily got laid but I really ain’t that kinda guy… not that night at least, one step at a time eh.

    If you seriously want to gain the confidence then you need to be prepared to go out of your comfort zone. Go on a night out or anywhere you’ll meet people. Take the risk of walking up to someone and asking them “Hey, how are you?” or something better if the situation allows it! and if they question why you are talking to them then answer “I would just like to have a conversation with you is all, if that is okay”. If they are rude then walk away, they are not worth your time.

    And remember, find out about their lives and who they are. Accept them for it and don’t judge 🙂

  7. Banane Wane says:

    How I start every conversation:
    “Yo” or “Hey guys” (Even if there is only one person)

    How I finish every conversation:
    “*incoherent rambling* so…..yeah :)”

  8. Erin collins says:

    I’m 23 years old and I’ve always been shy. I think a lot of my shyness comes from me not loving who I am fully. PEOPLE have flaws but my flaws really takes a toll on me and it effects my life tremendously. Everytime I think I’m doing good with a conversation with others. It never seems that way to me. I really like people and I love to care for others but I get really intimidated by a person if I start a conversation off and their actually engaging in my conversations. I start to get aniexty because I be in a state of shock that someone actually likes my conversations. I’m tired of being shy, insecrue and not having the confidence to take on the world. People may think I’m beautiful and have so much potential but I never do. I lost and is losing very important people in my life because of these issues.

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