'I’m an introvert who’s made a career talking. Here are my yapping hacks that work in every social situation.'

As a full-time podcast host and presenter, most people are shocked when they find out that I'm an introvert who's deeply afraid of holding a conversation.

Not to sound even more egotistical but I've also gotten quite a few (at least three) compliments on how well I'm able to... talk. 

Most people assume that it's because I need to be able to hold conversations because of my line of work, but really it's because I've trained myself to be good at talking. 

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As someone who's nailed the art of the yap, there are three rules that save my butt in every single social situation where I find myself have to chit chat. 

1. Make small talk interesting. 

Small talk gets a bad rep. It's been known as conversations that have no value and is a time waster. My unpopular opinion is that small talk is the best type of conversation if you know how to do it well. 

Small talk doesn't have to equate to meaningless talk. There are times where we actually need small talk. Maybe you're at an event and the only person you know has dipped out to get a drink and you're surrounded by people you've never met before. Maybe there's no empty tables in your office's lunch room so you end up sitting next to someone you've never met before. Maybe you're in an Uber pool and your phone has died so you can't avoid the clearly extroverted driver or fellow passenger. 

In all of these situations, you might not see that person again but you'd rather talk about anything at all instead of just standing there in silence. 


This is where the power of small talk can help you. 

We've all heard the generic ones:

It's nice that we got good weather today. 

Did you get much traffic coming here?

What do you do for work? 

Don't worry, I completely agree that these are all super cringe. However, you can take the dull small talk questions and make them much more interesting. 

I am so glad we got good weather today, I was worried that it was going to rain because the last wedding I went to was outdoors and it poured down. Have you been to a wedding in this area before?

Traffic was horrendous for me, I'm glad I drove because I always get a bit nauseous when I'm in the passenger seat. Did you make it here okay? 

I usually work really late but managed to sneak out a bit early, what do you do for work? 

I'm essentially asking the exact same questions, the only difference is that I'm giving the responder a bit more to work with. When you ask straight questions without allowing a little insight into your life, you'll only get straight answers back. By including snippets of yourself you're allowing the responder to react as well as respond, allowing the conversation to flow easier. 

2. Pretend you're on a first date. 

Following on from rule number one, the key to keeping the conversation going is to ask follow-up questions. I also have this rule on first dates but it applies to all social situations. Instead of going back and forth with questions and answers, actively listen to their responses and be curious. I've noticed that if you fake being curious, you end up honestly wanting to find out more about that person. 


I usually pretend I'm on a first date. Instead of the conversation flowing like: "What do you do for work?" And they answer with something like: "I'm a data analyst, what do you do?" 

I try to stop them before they ask the question back to me. I might say something like "That sounds really interesting what does a normal working day look like for you?" Or "That's so cool, what company do you work for?" Or "How did you get into that line of work? Do you enjoy it?" 

This doesn't only allow the conversation to flow in a less robotic way but it also makes the responder feel valued and will open them up more to letting the conversation flow. 

Just like a first date, these conversations should be equal amounts of ask and response. If you're finding your energy drained from only asking questions and not getting anything in return, you have my permission to stand/sit there in silence. 

3. Repeat names.

The oldest trick in the book is still one of the strongest. 

The best thing about meeting new people and making small talk is that no one expects you to remember their name because they don't remember yours either. 

However, if you like a challenge, a little trick to help remember people's names is to repeat their name after they introduce themselves to you. I also make it a point to say their name a few times within the conversation which not only helps it stick in my head but also makes them feel valued and appreciated.

People love hearing their name so don't be afraid to say it a few times. It's a win-win. 

Want more culture opinions and advice from Emily Vernem? You can follow her on Instagram @emilyvernem.

Feature image: Supplied.

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