All the experts tell you — ask lots of questions, listen to the answers, let the other person do all the talking — in short, do anything but don’t hog the conversation. Monopolizing the conversation, they will tell you, will bore your listeners and make you appear rude and insensitive — unless you have the wit and repartee of Oscar Wilde. But the fact is, in some situations it is absolutely the right thing to do.
Elsewhere on this blog, two good examples are mentioned — job interviews, and when you want to help along the sale of something like a house, or a car, or anything else that’s so expensive, your buyers need putting at their ease.
But there are other times too when you will be expected to do most of the talking, such as when you’ve done something spectacular, and are the guest of honour at a gathering. As a wild example, let’s suppose you’ve been doing volunteer work amongst the endangered penguins of Antarctica, and on your return home, your local community center asks you to give a short presentation and then mix with the guests afterwards.
The presentation is, of course, a lecture, and you wouldn’t expect it to proceed like a conversation, unless you invite questions from the audience, and even then, the situation would have more in common with an interview than a chat.
Real conversation skills come come into play afterwards, when you are rubbing shoulders with the guests and amplifying what you just said. It’s here that you’ll still be expected to do most of the talking — or monopolizing the conversation — simply because the gathering revolves around your experiences. The most obvious skill to bring into play would be preparation.
In other words, think and prepare in advance, and have a few anecdotes ready that you didn’t reveal in your talk: amusing or weird or emotionally moving events. Or you prepare by only revealing part of such experiences in the presentation, and expanding on them afterwards. And at the point of retelling these held-in-reserve experiences, you draw upon a second conversation skill — adding colour and depth by amplifying the emotion as you look inside yourself and your memory and relive the event.
There will be other, more common, occasions where you’ll be the centre of attention (your wedding day, graduation day, at the birth of your first child). By doing a little preparation in advance, you will have a great time, and impress people with your relaxed, seemingly spontaneous, conversational style