English Speaking Tip: Learn How to Keep the Conversation Going
I’m sure you’ve had this experience before. You’re at a party, at school, or at a family event. You’re talking to someone and then you start to have nothing to talk about. It can be a bad feeling, and I know that it most definitely makes me nervous. I’m sure it’s the same for you. Here are some English speaking tips to help you keep the conversation going. Learn how to be an excellent conversational partner and avoid that awkward silence!
Are you ready for some conversation awesome? Let’s go!
Go Back to an Earlier Topic
If your conversation is dying, you can keep the conversation going by returning to an earlier topic. You can say, “Earlier, you said _____. Tell me more about that.” This lets the listener know that you are a good listener yourself and interested in what they have to say.
Give Some Details
Expand what you say by giving details, rather than just a short, direct answer to a question. For example, if someone asks you about your vacation, don’t say, “It was great!” and leave it at that. Tell them a few highlights. “It was great! I hadn’t seen my family in a year, so I spent most of my time catching up with everyone.” This isn’t so long that someone who isn’t interested will get bored, and it opens up new areas for questions if the listener wants to know more.
Offer Some Examples
Support what you say with details and examples. Just as in writing, you sometimes need to “prove” what you say. You can use phrases in speaking that you use in writing. Some examples include:
“In my opinion, . . .”
“I think . . .”
“For example/ instance . . .”
“To elaborate, . . .”
Summarize the Main Points
Summarizing what you hear is a great way to confirm your understanding of the conversation. This is something native speakers do, especially at work or if some type of commitment is being made. To summarize a conversation, state any important facts or information as well as any agreements that have been made. For example, “I’ll email the report to you by 5:00 this Friday.” This short sentence checks several details: the report will be emailed, not printed; the due date this Friday, not next Friday; and you have until the end of the day to complete it. If anything in your summary is incorrect, the listener should correct you, “Oh, don’t rush; you have until Monday to finish it.”
If you’re not sure that you heard something correctly, you can say,
“If I understand correctly, you. . .”
“So, what you’re saying is. . .”
The person you’re talking to will confirm or deny what you say.
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