Let’s be honest with ourselves, because most of us are busy with work and family, we don’t always have something interesting to say. Even if we think our own work is interesting, it may not be of interest to others. For many people, the thought of making small talk can be extremely stressful. If you’re uncomfortable starting up a conversation with a co-worker, or doubt what you have to say is worthwhile, you might benefit from some of these tips on building self-confidence.
In addition to convincing yourself that you’re worthy of being heard, there are techniques that could help you start an interesting conversation. Staying up on the news is one way to broaden one’s scope of knowledge but it’s not always possible to integrate news items into casual conversation. Two internet sites which fill that gap are TED talks and The Moth podcasts. The information and stories from these sites make great icebreakers.
It might surprise you to find that sitting through an on-line lecture about science, government, or business could be so inspiring. Spending as little as eighteen minutes per day may give you novel ideas, motivate you to act in new ways and make you laugh or cry. Listening to a short TED talk or a Moth podcast once per day could give you an array of interesting ideas that could help strike up a conversation anywhere. If you need some great material for small talk that will get the attention of your boss, co-workers or friends, try picking a topic that would interest them. This may be a more effective way of engaging others than discussing the news or gossiping. It may even help you become a more insightful person.
As a career coach, my goal is to help people maximize their happiness, success at work, and in their personal life. Ted talks and Moth podcasts are a quick way for any one to become informed on ideas that matter. Some can help you at work and others could just give you a great story for a cocktail party. The comedians on TED share hilarious stories that are fun to share with friends and could be a great substitute for gossip when you’re looking for something light and clever. The research-based talks could make you a better manager, executive and even improve your interviewing skills.
Past presenters include Bill Clinton, Jane Goodall, Malcolm Gladwell, Gordon Brown, Richard Dawkins, Bill Gates, Bono, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and many Nobel Prize winners. And then there are thousands of other less well-known but equally fascinating presenters who enlighten viewers every day with their research, insights and storytelling.
Here’s the reason I suggest you try both of these sites if you haven’t yet. The information can help you in becoming a broader thinker and will expose you to new ideas. The effect is that you’ll become more knowledgeable about topics outside of your field and you could become better informed about current innovations within your field (or about other current issue that compliment your work with a limited investment of your time and in a way that’s absolutely free).
If there was an easy way for everyone to become more interesting that’s free and actually entertaining, why don’t more people do it? The answer is simple, most people don’t realize that being interesting is not only good for one’s social life and one’s career trajectory but it can also be enriching and generate more overall happiness. The last six months I’ve been listening to Ted talks on a regular basis. I receive one talk per weekday and another on the weekends. A renowned expert on the topic they discuss gives each talk. The speakers range from scientists, comedians, historians, community activists and authors who bring their wealth of knowledge to our screens to amaze, inspire, educate, inform and entertain in a whole new way.
The best part is that you can watch the talks anywhere you go assuming you have a mobile device with wifi. I watch when it’s convenient for me: I reserve two a day for when I’m running on the treadmill or climbing the stairmill. But you could enjoy the talk while eating your breakfast or waiting for the dentist. The speakers address a wide range of topics within the research and practice of science and culture, often through storytelling. They are given a maximum of eighteen minutes to present their ideas in the most innovative and engaging ways they can. The Moth podcasts also are entertaining and provide great insights but more on a human-interest level through the extraordinary voices of great storytellers and poets. The only down side is that you might find yourself laughing out loud, so be aware of watching them in a public space.
If you want to learn about a topic fast, be exposed to great ideas that will fire up your mind, and improve your personal brand, subscribe to TED Talks or The Moth Podcasts. This is an easy way to become an interesting conversationalist while enjoying the experience of learning from some of the world’s greatest thinkers!