This is part four of a four-part series on developing your conversational skills. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out parts one, two, and three.

Technology is helping REALTORS® be more efficient, but there are no tools available that  replicate the value of in-person interactions. Real estate remains a people business for which communication is a currency. One of the most common concerns people have when it comes to conversing with others is how to sustain an interesting conversation. Using these two actionable techniques, you can become a more engaging conversationalist.

Keep the conversation flowing using “breakaways”

You’ve probably experienced that panicky moment when a conversation is wavering and it’s clear you need a new topic for discussion just as a bonfire needs another log. Don’t fret, people often leave little hints in passing that you can use to naturally shift into new lines of conversation.  These hints are referred to here as “breakaways.” In the example, “I know that restaurant, it’s downtown near my old office,” you’re given several breakaways: the specific restaurant, food, downtown nightlife, working in the city, and a change in occupation. Comment on the topic you find most interesting, make a generalized statement, and transition into an open-ended question, such as:

  • Working Downtown: “You worked in the city? Wow, the commute must have been hectic, what was your strategy for staying sane?” That can lead to talking about navigating through the city, public transportation, crazy drivers, music, podcasts, and audiobooks.
  • Downtown Nightlife: “The food there is great. That’s one of the reasons I love big cities—you can eat somewhere nice and then immediately go do something fun nearby. What was your favourite thing to do downtown after work?” You can then segue into discussing activities in the city, restaurants, hobbies, and travelling.

Keep any potential breakaways in mind so if the conversation stalls, you can revisit something previously mentioned without having to pull a new topic from thin air. With practise, cataloguing breakaways can become a subconscious process. You should always try to remain present in the conversation so you’re not just planning responses and waiting until it’s your turn to speak.

Engage listeners by telling a great story

Great conversationalists are often skilled storytellers. They seem to channel their energy and weave their words so effortlessly. You think: “My life just isn’t interesting enough for me to tell good stories like they do,” but you’re wrong. You don’t have to live the life of a sitcom to be a good storyteller, you just need to improve how you tell stories by following a simple narrative arc:

  • The Setup: You lay out the foundation for the story, who’s involved, and any background information others NEED to know. Many stories fail in the setup because the teller shares too many irrelevant details, so set the scene as quickly as you can—ideally in just a few sentences.
  • Rising Action: You’re moving through the plot of your story and now is the time to create tension. Hook your listeners in by posing questions to keep them guessing what happens next, such as what was going through your mind at the time. Use the intonation of your voice to parallel the rising action in the story.
  • Climax: This is what they’ve been waiting for: the payoff, the punchline, the most interesting or important part of the story. Escalate the tone of your voice to its peak, accentuate any important words for dramatic effect, be expressive with your face, and animated with your body language. This moment will be more impactful if it’s clear you enjoy telling the story as much as you hope they enjoy hearing it.
  • Resolution: Now’s the time to wind down the story. Answer any questions you may have raised in the rising action, reflect on what the story taught you, and give a closing remark so it’s clear to listeners you’re finished.

When you are someone with whom conversing is easy and fun, you’ll find no shortage of people looking to make your acquaintance. People are magnetically drawn to engaging conversationalists. While nothing hones your conversational skills as well as real-world practise, learning and making use of techniques like these can give you an edge and quicken your learning.


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