Friday, October 08, 2010

Friday Charm School - The Art of Conversation, Part 1

Welcome to Friday Charm School! If you were invited to a party given by an acquaintance, would you be able to walk into a room full of strangers with confidence and ease? The ability to mix and converse with friends and strangers alike is an important social skill.

In today's modern world of texting and twittering, it seems that conversation is becoming a lost art. But an evening of interesting, lively conversation can be an exhilarating and memorable one. The mere act of two or more people having the opportunity to express themselves is one of the most satisfying experiences in life.

Over the next few weeks, we'll look at five essentials of becoming a good conversationalist, both as a hostess and as a guest. Practicing these skills will help you avoid becoming the sit-in-the-corner guest or the hide-in-the-kitchen hostess.

Conversation Essential 1: Assume your conversational responsibilities.

As a hostess, one of your jobs is to ensure that all of your guests enjoy themselves. When preparing your guest list, think about the people you are inviting. Will they fit easily with one another? Do they have interests in common? Are their occupations or backgrounds similar?

On any guest list, be sure to include one or two friends you can rely on to keep the conversational ball rolling. Even so, as the hostess, you are responsible for seeing that the conversation does not develop into a series of monologues with no back and forth. You can prevent this with questions to other guests that invite their opinions.

If your party evolves into an assortment of small groups, your duties need even more attention. Be sure that every guest has part in a group discussion. Be prepared to maneuver guests from one group to another to ensure that everyone has an interesting and lively evening. Don't become so engrossed in one conversation that you ignore all else around you. Be that social butterfly that flits from group to group, starting new topics, engaging quiet or shy guests, and finessing the spotlight away from a conversation hog.

If you are a guest, be prepared to follow your hostess' lead. Better still, circulate on your own, joining and talking with everyone present at the party.