I used to struggle a lot with being able to hold a conversation. I often “ran out of things to say.” Or rather, I actually ran out of questions.
You can easily run out of questions to ask, but you can never really run out of things to talk about. It takes a bit of practice, but once you make some small tweaks, you can have the skill of talking forever. It’s a really great skill to have whatever field you’re in.
The reason why most people “run out of things to say” is that they think too much of what is okay to say and what is not okay to say. They have filters.
Before you say something, it needs to go through a filter. Filtering means you have to evaluate the thing you say, and this takes time. It also takes a lot of energy. The key is to lose the filters.
Say anything. Whatever comes to your mind is fine. Don’t care what others think. You’ll discover that interactions become effortless once you realize you can literally say anything. E.g., you don’t know what to say, but you notice the person has a phone in her hand. You can simply start talking about the phone. You may think it’s a bit cheesy, but it’s just a starting point as new conversational threads will come up from that.
This means that you lower the bar of what is cool. We usually have way too high standards in our minds of what is appropriate to say – that it has to be witty and cool and smart and all that.
You should lower the bar to the point that the only criterion is that it’s a coherent sentence. That’s it! Everything you say is cool simply because it comes from you. Get rid of that little voice “Is this good enough to say?” You set the standard of what’s good.
So, instead of thinking about cool things to talk about, talk about the first thing that comes to your mind, and it’s almost a guarantee that cool topics will branch out of it.
Another thing that helps with talking endlessly is to talk about things you’re passionate about.
You may think that what you’re passionate about is not interesting for the others, but this is incorrect thinking. If you’re passionate about something, others will be drawn in. It’s human nature. It’s not really about the logical content but about the vibe.
I’m passionate about e.g., books, self-development, and photography. I can talk forever about these topics. Ask yourself, what are you passionate about?
Lastly, stay present in the moment. When our conversational partner mentions something familiar to us, e.g., a movie we’ve seen, we might get an idea of what to say next ourselves – maybe it’s something really interesting that we remembered. So we get tempted to try to keep that thought in our head so we wouldn’t forget it to say it when it’s our turn to talk. This is a very bad idea.
Thinking about what to say next takes us out of the present moment and puts us in our heads. We’re not really listening to what the other person is saying; we’re only thinking of what we could say next. This drastically erodes the quality of the interaction as we feel that the other person is not really “there.”
Let that thought go and trust that you’ll find something else to say (lose filters, lower the bar).
These tweaks will help you to talk effortlessly. Essentially you just have to let go and not worry about the things to say, and trust that they will come up naturally if you are present in the moment and don’t filter and just let thoughts flow out of you.