How to Keep the Conversation Going (With Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published October 18, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When engaging in social interactions, you may want to develop strategies to keep the conversation going. This requires reflection and practise to ensure your conversations flow easily. By knowing how to continue conversations, you can improve your professional relationships and feel more at ease socializing with a variety of people in any situation. In this article, we discuss how to continue a conversation and provide several questions to help you continue conversations.

How to keep the conversation going

Here is a guide to help you keep the conversation going with your colleagues, friends, client, or other people in a variety of situations:

1. Ask open-ended questions

Open-ended questions refer to questions that require the other speaker to explain their answer. Speakers can answer closed-ended questions with yes or no, while open-ended questions require longer answers. Here are some examples of closed-ended questions:

  • "Did you have a good day?"

  • "Did you enjoy your class?"

  • "Do you like the weather?"

Here are some examples of open-ended versions of the same question:

  • "What did you do today?"

  • "How did you streamline those processes?"

  • "Why do you like this hobby?"

2. Ask follow-up questions

When having a conversation with another person, you may find it beneficial to ask follow-up questions because this shows the other individual that you care about their experiences and opinion. When your conversation begins to slow or when you don't know what to say, you may want to ask follow-up questions. Here are some examples of follow-up questions to keep the conversation going:

  • "You mentioned before that you had a busy day. What did you do?"

  • "When you say you'd like to improve our current processes, what do you mean?"

  • "I hear what you're saying about feeling unmotivated. What typically helps you increase your motivation?"

3. Determine when to share and ask questions

When communicating with others, you may want to consider your balance between sharing and asking. A strong method to use is the IFR method, which is an initialism for inquire, follow-up, and relate. Inquiring requires you to ask a sincere question, while follow-up requires you to ask another question, and relating requires you to share information about yourself or your experience. Here are some IFR examples:

  • Inquire: "**Where did you get your bachelor's degree?"

  • Follow-up: "Did you also obtain a master's degree?"

  • Relate: "I completed my degree at the Montreal Marketing School."

4. Consider limiting questions

When having a conversation, you may find it beneficial to limit the number of questions you ask. By asking too many questions, the person you converse with may feel interviewed and may limit their answers or explanations. Consider providing personal details and personal information between questions to contribute to the conversation. By providing personal details or information, you also enable the other person to ask you follow-up questions. This can change the direction of your conversation.

Related: Informal Interview Questions

5. Show interest

If you want to keep your conversation going, you may want to show the other person who you're interested in the conversation. You can do this by using both verbal and nonverbal cues. For example, a strong cue or form of body language requires you to nod your head while the other person speaks. This shows them you pay attention to what they say and that you still follow the conversation.

Related: How to Write About Interests on Your Resume

6. Discover common interests

You may find it beneficial to determine common interests with other people to provide you with strong talking points. When you have common interests with another person, you have more opportunities to continue the conversation. For example, if you both enjoy reading books, you can provide the other person with book recommendations and talk about various components of books you've both read.

7. Maintain eye contact

Maintaining eye contact helps you continue conversations because the person you speak to can tell you're paying attention to them when they speak. When individuals feel uncomfortable, they may habitually turn away or avoid eye contact. By maintaining eye contact, you can show the speaker that you're interested and that you care about what they're saying. It can also make you appear more confident.

8. Establish comfort with silence

When trying to keep a conversation going, you can develop comfort with silence and consider when it's appropriate to speak and when to take a break. This ensures you consistently continue the conversation when you're relaxed and prevents forced conversations. By becoming comfortable with silence, you also ensure the other speaker feels more comfortable, which can promote easy conversations.

9. Discuss previous conversations

When trying to keep your conversation going, you may want to discuss a previous conversation to get clarity and show the speaker that you pay attention when they speak. When doing this, consider whether the speaker mentioned topics you thought were especially interesting. Here are some examples of phrases to use when discussing previous conversations:

  • "Earlier you mentioned that you went to Amsterdam. I'd love to hear more about that."

  • "Yesterday, you spoke about wanting to learn a new hobby. Have you tried anything in particular?"

10. Share a story

If you don't know what to say to continue a conversation, you may want to consider telling a story. This helps you develop a relationship with the other speaker. Before engaging in conversations or social events, you may find it beneficial to think about some stories you can tell if you need to continue a conversation. Think about stories that relate to particular subjects you want to discuss, and ensure they're appropriate for your audience.

11. Be informed

To keep conversations going, consider spending time every day doing research on subjects that interest you. This ensures you have the knowledge required to elaborate on subjects as they arise. You can read about amusing stories that you recently read. When you're well-informed, you can have more light-hearted, interesting conversations.

Related: Research Skills: Definition and Examples

12. Share your opinion

When you're unsure of which direction to take the conversation, you may consider speaking about anything on your mind. This is a quick and easy way to create more opportunities for conversation. Sharing your opinion also provides the other speaker with an opportunity to share their own opinion to either agree or disagree. This can lead to larger conversations and interesting debates. Ensure you always keep your opinions respectful and allow the person you're speaking with to share theirs equally.

13. Ask for advice

When you want to continue with a conversation, you can consider asking them for advice or recommendations on topics in which they have knowledge. This also helps you achieve personal and professional goals by gaining insight into these topics. Here are some examples of phrases to use when you want to ask for advice:

  • "I know you enjoy the technology field. I was thinking about upgrading my phone soon and was wondering if you could tell me which one I should get."

  • "I heard you like gardening. I was wondering if you could tell me which plants I should buy that don't require much maintenance."

14. Prepare for conversations

To keep conversations going, you may find it beneficial to prepare topics in advance to ensure you have subjects to discuss. This is useful when you have a social event to attend and expect to be speaking with several people. For example, if you go to a networking event, it may be beneficial to prepare questions about industries and jobs you expect to hear about at the event. This allows you to ask people about their particular roles and responsibilities.

15. Remain optimistic

If you want to continue a conversation, you may find it beneficial to stay positive and encourage speakers. When speakers discuss their interests, you may want to encourage them to educate you. Consider challenging yourself by asking yourself why the speaker likes the hobby or job. You may also want to discuss similarities and try to connect to the speaker.

Related: Example of Hobbies and Interests To Include on Your Resume

Questions that help you get to know someone

Here's a list of questions that can help you get to know someone and keep your conversation going:

  • "What do you like to do for fun with family and friends?

  • "What are your favourite responsibilities in your current role?"

  • "How do you promote your wellness to ensure you're your best self at work?"

  • "What made you want to follow this career path?"

  • "Would you consider yourself to be someone who takes initiative?"

  • "What underrated movie do you love?"

  • "If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?"

  • "What's the best book you've read recently? I'm looking for some suggestions."

  • "Which TV character do you believe best reflects you?"

  • "Do you have a job in the same field as your postsecondary degree?"

  • "Whats the best career decision you've ever made?"

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