How To Keep a Conversation Going: Benefits and 10 Tips

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated March 28, 2022 | Published January 22, 2021

Updated March 28, 2022

Published January 22, 2021

Conversation is an essential part of everyday life that influences an individual's ability to communicate thoughts and ideas. It's important to understand how to keep a conversation going because it allows you to create meaningful connections with others and communicate your needs. By learning more about how to maintain a conversation, you can become a better conversationalist in your personal and professional life.

In this article, we explore why it's important to have good conversation skills, review key benefits of being able to maintain a conversation, provide tips for keeping a conversation going and include a list of steps on how to keep a conversation going.

Related: How To Make Small Talk

What are conversation skills and why are they important?

Conversation skills are interpersonal traits that allow individuals to communicate effectively with others. Conversation skills include active listening, language usage, empathy and storytelling. It is important to have good conversation skills because it can help you professionally present yourself at work. Here are a few more examples of why good conversation skills are important:

Helps establish meaningful professional connections

By using good conversation skills, you have the ability to make others feel valued. It also enables you to develop the conversation further to learn more about one another and your professional interests.

Encourages mutual understanding

When you understand how to converse with others and continue conversations, you can help the other person understand your views and learn about theirs too. By understanding one another, you have a better chance of maintaining positive communication and working well together.

Helps you articulate your ideas

Knowing how to converse with others allows you to share your thoughts and ideas in a well-spoken manner. This demonstrates your professionalism and helps you gain support for different projects or business ventures.

Related: 8 Ways To Improve Conversational Skills in the Workplace

Benefits of maintaining a conversation

In the right setting, maintaining a conversation can benefit you in a variety of ways. Here are a few examples of when you can benefit from maintaining a conversation:

During job interviews

When interviewing for jobs, longer interviews may indicate that you have a better chance of moving forward with an employer. Your ability to maintain a conversation with a hiring manager by asking good questions, making small talk and giving in-depth answers can help them learn more about your qualifications and it shows that you care about the position in question.

During networking events

Networking events are a great way to meet other professionals and potential employers. If you can maintain a conversation with another professional, you might establish a long-term networking connection that can lead to future jobs or partnerships.

During client meetings

For those who work in sales and client relations, being able to maintain a conversation influences your ability to obtain new clients and renew client contracts. This is because you understand how to connect with others, make them feel valued and discuss topics in detail.

During team projects

Maintaining conversations when working with a group of coworkers ensures that you each understand your roles and work toward the same goal. It can also help you and your team members get to know one another and strengthen your team's productivity levels.

Related: 35 Networking Conversation Starters

Tips for maintaining a conversation

Here are some tips to help you maintain a conversation and understand social cues:

Practice maintaining conversations in your personal life

The most effective way to maintain a conversation is to practice until you get comfortable conversing with others. You can practice with a friend or loved one, or you can practice with strangers while at the store or a community event. By expanding your comfort zone and learning more about the types of questions people respond to, you can develop helpful methods to maintain conversations.

Use active listening

Active listening is the process by which you convey your focus and attention to the speaker. This includes making eye contact, nodding and making brief verbal gestures. If a person feels like you're genuinely interested in what they have to say, they might be more willing to elaborate on the topic and continue talking with you.

Don't speak just to fill the silence during pauses.

When conversing with others, especially those you don't know well, a silent moment or brief pause might make you feel obligated to speak. However,

Know when to end the conversation

Every conversation has an endpoint, and some end more quickly than others. This doesn't mean you didn't have a pleasant conversation with them, it just means you've discussed everything you could. By reading the other person's body language, you can assess whether they're ready to move on from the conversation. Conclude by thanking them for their time and give them your contact information if necessary.

Related: 20 Ways To Start a Conversation With a Stranger (With Examples)

How to keep a conversation going

Review these steps to determine how to keep a conversation going:

1. Ask follow-up questions

Follow-up questions are those that you ask after the initial question about topics that the speaker brings up in their answer. This is a great way to keep a conversation going, and it shows your interest in what the other person has to say. Asking good follow-up questions requires you to listen attentively and remember small details. For example:

  • "How did you get into marketing?"

  • "I took an intro to marketing course in college and It fascinated me."

  • "That's awesome. So where did you go to school?"

2. Include a story or example with questions that constitute a yes or no answer

Elaborating on answers that would otherwise be "yes" or "no" gives you the chance to lengthen the conversation and inspire follow-up questions from the listener. For example, if someone asks you if you're from the area, you could say something like this:

  • "No, I am from Chicago, Illinois, but this warm weather is making me rethink my choices. Where are you from?"

3. Compliment the other person

If you aren't sure what to say next, compliment the person's hairstyle, clothes or one of their accomplishments you know about. This helps you keep the conversation going as it allows the other person to speak more about an item, and it allows you to ask more questions. Here are a couple of ways you can do this:

  • "Your speech was so inspiring. How did you get so good at public speaking?"

  • "I love your Maryland hat. Are you from there?"

4. Use your body language to demonstrate an interest

When engaging in conversation with someone, make sure you angle your body towards them, maintain eye contact and lean in their direction. This helps demonstrate your interest in what they have to say. If you consistently look to the side or angle yourself away from them, they might take this as a sign that you need to go do something else.

Related: 6 Ways To Overcome Listening Barriers

5. Structure your questions in an open-ended format

When you ask questions, make sure you phrase them correctly to prompt a detailed response from the other person. Closed-ended questions like "Do you attend these events often?" or "Are you employed in the financial sector?" prompt a quick "yes" or "no" unless the person wants to elaborate further. Therefore, ask questions like these when you want to maintain the conversation:

  • "What's the speech-writing process like?"

  • "How did you get your start in the publishing industry?"

  • "What advice would you give to someone who wanted a career in finance?"

  • "What's it like traveling for your job all the time?"

6. Take advantage of your current environment to develop conversation topics

This is a good strategy if you aren't sure how to connect with someone and maintain a steady flow of conversation as it takes the focus off of you and them. For example:

  • "This is such a unique event space. Have you been here before?"

  • "I see you went to the buffet. What would you recommend?"

7. Offer information about yourself to introduce trivial questions about the other person

If you feel like you're doing most of the talking, you can use a question to encourage the other person to share information about themselves or their thoughts. These are some examples:

  • "I'm from North Dakota. Where are you from?"

  • "I work in marketing communications. What's your line of work?"

  • "My name is Jordan. What's yours?"

8. Bring up appropriate current events

If you're speaking with someone from your area, you can use appropriate current events to continue your conversation. This could include an upcoming seasonal event in your area, a new restaurant or another subject. Try not to discuss political events to maintain your professionalism. Here are some examples of how to use current events to keep your conversation going:

  • "Have you been to the October festival on 7th street yet?"

  • "Taylorstown just opened an Italian restaurant and I've been hesitant to go. Have you gone there yet?"

  • "Were you stuck in the traffic on 15 earlier today?"

9. Say what you're thinking

When speaking with someone you don't know well, you might feel like you have to maintain a sense of formality around them. However, sometimes saying what you think (within reason) can help the conversation continue. Here are some examples of appropriate statements to make:

  • "This cake is delicious."

  • "I can't wait until the weather gets warmer."

  • "I'm so excited about our upcoming launch."

10. Introduce them to another person

If you want to keep the conversation going but you can tell you're running out of things to say, bring another person into the conversation. A third person can help you develop new topics of conversation to discuss.

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