My gift is more towards writing; I often struggle with speaking. My mind goes too fast, and the neurons for word recall jump track back and forth between English and Portuguese. It makes fluid conversation more difficult. I get out what I need to, but I’m not as smooth as I’d like to be. One of things I did a year or two ago was join a Toastmasters’ group. I enjoyed my time with that group tremendously, and while I was with them, I noticed more fluid speech. I graduated as Competent Communicator, and even won a regional speech contest (it’s really because the one I was up against had to leave in the second round…ha!)
One of exercises that Toastmasters does is called Table Topics. Someone gets up and asks a random question and then calls on a person in the audience to get up and talk about that question for 2-3 minutes. Table Topics is nerve-wracking, but in a warm and accepting group that affirms you even when you screw up, it’s a great place to practice your impromptu speaking skills.
Sometimes the topics were about sports, and since I know little about sports, I learned to say: “I don’t really know about that sport, but I can tell you about…” and then switch topics. It’s a good trick when you don’t know what to say. People would ask about music, or a childhood memory about summer, or a favorite game.
What I find interesting is that almost any topic that gets people talking about something they fondly remember can turn into a nice conversation and laughter.
DAY 68 HOMEWORK: I could send you to find a local Toastmasters, and you should check it out sometime, but homework for today is just to remember some fond memories of your own so that you have some ideas of what you can ask others about. That way, you’ll be prepared to fill any of the awkward silences with questions for discussion. Happy impromptu chatting!