How to never run out of things to say

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I often used to run out of things to talk about. Either because I got stuck in small talk that died out, or because I tensed up so that my mind went blank.

Sometimes, a conversation is meant to end and there’s no need to push it. But if you often run out of things to say, this guide is for you.

1. Practice saying what’s on your mind without filtering yourself

I used to worry that what I said would sound dumb or too obvious. When I analyzed socially savvy people, I learned that they say mundane, obvious things all the time.[2]

When you start a conversation with someone new you may feel like small talk is awkward and meaningless. The truth is that small talk helps us “warm-up” to each other and signal that we’re friendly, easy-going and open for interaction. People will judge you for what you say as little as you walk around and judge others for what they say. Instead of trying to say smart things, say whatever’s on your mind.

2. Get past the small talk by asking something more personal

“I often run out of things to say with friends. I get stuck in small talk and the conversation dies out”. 

– Cas

Ask people slightly personal questions to make boring topics interesting.

If you talk about work, ask what they like the most about it or where they see themselves in the future. If you talk about rents, ask them if they have a dream of where to live.

This way, you move from small talk to personal mode. In the personal mode we learn about each others…

  • Plans
  • Likes
  • Passions
  • Dreams
  • Hopes
  • Fears

When you transition the conversation like this, you’re engaging the other person more and it’s easier to make conversation.[3] At this point, you get to know each other rather than just making small talk.

3. Focus on the conversation whenever you get stuck in thoughts

Sometimes, all we can think about is if we come off as weird, if we’re blushing or that our heart is about to jump out of our chest. The key is to calm your mind by focusing intensively on what the other person is saying:

In a study conducted at Macquarie University on attentional focus in social anxiety, they found that when the participants focused their attention on what the other person was saying, instead of on their internal reactions like heart rate, blushing, concern over how they were being perceived, they were less nervous and had fewer physical reactions as a result.[1]

When you focus on what your partner is saying you won’t have time to feed your internal anxiety because your mind is caught up in the conversation. When you worry less about you, it’s easier to come up with things to say.

4. Stop trying and it’ll be easier to come up with things to say

I decided to stop trying so hard. I accepted that conversation didn’t have to go great and that people didn’t have to like me. Ironically, that helped me relax and be more pleasant and likable to be around.

Rather than being on edge trying to come up with things to say, allow for silences. Be okay with taking a few seconds extra to formulate an answer. Rather than trying to make people like you, make sure that they like being AROUND you.

You can do that by being a great listener. When you talk, you say things that you think are fun or interesting for the other person to hear, not things that are supposed to make you look a certain way. (Humblebragging, talking about cool stuff you’ve done, etc.)

People want to be liked and heard and are interested in people who show them that kind of genuine attention. As Maya Angelou said, “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”

Read more here in our guide on

Here’s what you will learn in the video:

00:15 – The solution to never running out of things to say
00:36 – Linear- vs Nonlinear conversations
01:00 – Won’t you come off as random switching the subject?
01:24 – Real life example of Conversational Threading
02:30 – How to best practice Conversational Threading
02:46 – The best thing about learning this

References

  1. Zou, J. B., Hudson, J. L., & Rapee, R. M. (2007). The effect of attentional focus on social anxiety. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 45(10), 2326-2333.
  2. Peter Bearman, Paolo Parigi, Cloning Headless Frogs and Other Important Matters: Conversation Topics and Network Structure, Social Forces, Volume 83, Issue 2, December 2004, Pages 535–557, https://doi.org/10.1353/sof.2005.0001
  3. Morris-Adams, M. (2014). From Spanish paintings to murder: Topic transitions in casual conversations between native and non-native speakers of English. Journal of Pragmatics, 62, 151-165.

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63 thoughts on “How to never run out of things to say”

  1. I am a very very shy person. Didn’t talk in school at all so was bullied. I made myself talk with a person I didn’t know very well last week and she got up and walked away. It was so awkward I had to go to my room for an hour.

    Reply
  2. Thanks David for your consistent assistance. I almost lost hope in life and thought I will never be able to be comfortable like others. Further I would like to make a request;if you can please provide assistance in how to begin conversation with existing friends groups and how to improve the sense of humour.

    Reply
  3. Thank you!
    Its nice to be less nervous and nice to met new people to talk to. But how do i keep them, to be closer friends.
    And how do single people met new partnets? The world is quick, short messages and photos and people suddenly dissapear in the middle of a conversation?

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  4. Thank you so much for you emails they have been an absolute game changer, I genuinely feel like my social awkwardness and introverted nature is perhaps curable. However I would like to get your opinion on what to do if those around you do not feel that you can be any different. My question is do these tricks you teach have a visible effect that others can see or are they more subtle, because of no-one can tell a difference they will not give you an easier time when practicing your techniques

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  5. I’m in this situation where i call lots of people my friends but i barely know them and i hardly spent time with them. It’s like i have friends but no one to talk to.

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  6. Just wanted to say thank you for this video. This tool of the three topics and the other tool I learned with a prior video, “O.F.C.” is helpful! I’ve tried out O.F.C. and I’m looking forward to trying out the three topics 🙂

    Reply
  7. Thanks for this. I have been in an akward silence in conversation with family & friends as they are my close circle. So this helps & very right about finding a subject. And don’t be not surpise when u can still have more longer conversation to go back on or how it transitions to another.

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  8. This is some great advice! My biggest issue in social gatherings is that I think I’m too boring. I want to make the other person in the conversation laugh and at ease because thats what makes me comfortable (knowing that the other person is having a good time), but my only problem is that I dont know how to be funny without trying too hard.

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  9. I think my issue is that I get so stressed about continuing the conversation that I try to think of interesting topics and can’t, of course, because I’m stressed and then I don’t end up listening or remembering what the person said to me.

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  10. David, this is amazing work, thank you so much for sharing it with us!

    After years of feeling like the underdog in many situations I would say that for me there is a fear baked in from childhood that I’m not as good as other people and that they are more important than me. Learning and accepting along the way that self acceptance of whoever i am at any given time is the only way to ever truly be happy has helped massively, but i have been missing the techniques for conversation and social skills to support progress in social situations and your work here really fits that situation, helping with going out into the world feeling like I have a tool kit of sorts. This helps to get around avoidant behaviour from being nervous of being nervous that drives me crazy!

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  11. I often get the feeling that when I ask questions to try and spark a conversation, they aren’t interested in responding in any meaningful way and the conversation doesn’t continue. Should I keep asking questions to force them to talk? They don’t ask me anything in return.

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  12. Mostly it’s the opener… I feel like I’m decent enough at keeping a conversation going (even though that could also use some improvement). But I cannot usually bring myself to take the first step. I’m trying to gradually face my social fears to improve confidence but the first step is still the hardest. Especially in situations where it feels unnatural.

    I’ve been trying to make small talk at the gym cause that’s where I feel most comfortable around strangers and I’ve been relatively successfull. But anywhere else: grocery stores, public spaces etc I just feel like I would be bothering people since I have no reason to actually talk to them. Also doesn’t help that I live in Sweden and people here just don’t socialize in public spaces. I need something to push through that first barrier.

    Even just saying hello to, for example, a pretty girl walking by is more scary to me than actually having the conversation I feel… I need to figure something out

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  13. I think what is holding me back socially is the fear and anxiety of being perceived as stupid, silly, boring or unworthy of their time.

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  14. I can’t start conversations because i can’t find any interesting to say. I think i’m boring and that i don’t have anything to offer so they’ll dislike me. I’m afraid that what i say comes of as silly or dull and that people will want to go away

    Reply
  15. When ever I’m around a new group of people I usually feel like I can’t relate to them so it’s hard for me to make conversation. I tend to get stuck in my head thinking about what to say or do and this makes me feel kind of awkward because I feel like they can tell that there’s something wrong . I feel like I struggle to be my self around people other than my really close friends

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  16. I struggle to starting conversation with someone, I sit there with people unable to say anything. When I meet people for first time the main question everyone starts with is what do you do for living? I am not working at moment and this ends conversation. My life is boring as I struggle to socialise and have nothing interesting to say to about my life. I end up sitting there anxiously with group of people unable to join In with their conversation.

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  17. my only problem is that i have really bad shaving side effects and i just dont have above average skin either (im 15 and have facial hair by the way) my social problems mainly consist of just lacking hooks to conversations, and i cant start a conversation or persue one without it just being a question and answer, if you can give your personal opinion how to be an intresting, even an attractive person with conversation skills, charisma and half attractive looks that would be great

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  18. . . . I don’t think I’m making any progress. The only times I think of conversation in class is when someone asks a question loudly, or I ask someone a question. I don’t think of replying to statements, and I’m still bullied for being ‘depressed’ because of my silence. . . I feel panicky. . .

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  19. I feel like I’ve been getting better at confidence in myself and my abilities so I’ve had success in just simply talking more in general. However I feel like there are many instances where I’m not a real participant in conversation, instead I’m like a mirror nodding and smiling and agreeing but not being me. I feel like its because like alot of ppl have been saying is because I dont like where I am in life and feel I have nothing to offer the other person

    Reply
  20. Hi David,
    I’m an introvert and I really do not have close friends. I have trouble speaking clearly or with my pronunciation because I have a mild medical condition that effects my nasal and throat. So sometimes when I speak the listener will either correct the way I pronounce words or due to my accent and mispronounce of words they tend to make judgement on me. ( I’m losing friends here). I never talk about my condition as I do not want empathy. All I want are friends who do not judge me base on how I speak but I know it’s difficult especially when I’m trying to be friends for the first time.
    I’m also socially awkward especially when I’m encountering people who seem to know it all and I’m left little to talk about due to lack of subject knowledge. Sometimes I do feel a bit small or through their body language Im getting the signals that the person doesn’t agree to anything i said and it’s difficult for me to move on.

    Reply
  21. Hi. I suffered from social anxiety since a couple of years ago. I read a lot about it, I try to get out there and talk to people, but I always end up making the same mistakes. Overthinking what I’m about to say, feeling like everyone can tell I’m weird and anxious, awkward silences…
    Yesterday, the mother of a classmate called my mom to discuss something about school and she told her that the girl didn’t want to talk to me cause she thought I didn’t like her, and I always thought she didn’t like me!!!
    Conversations are awkward cause I make them so, people don’t feel comfortable around me because I don’t feel comfortable. How can I stop setting them off?

    Reply
  22. Hi David. I am enjoying your videos. I found the conversational threading interesting because it did make me realise that I have been doing this all along. What I got out of this is that if you have a general interest in people ( whatever walk in life) this just happens naturally because you want to know more about them so I guess being a little nosy can sometimes be a positive trigger ( I don’t mean on a deep personal level that would make the recipient uncomfortable) but when bonds form further down the track, expanded threading naturally occurs because you will know that person on a more personal level. My problem has been that I always think the next person is above me and this is when I can become a little selective with whom I wish to mingle with. Should that person/s I was referring to approach me and start a conversation, then I can use expanded conversation with ease and realise that at the end of the day we are all human and some people are just not as approachable as some but the barrier can be knocked down. I know I’m not an expert but life experiences has a way of telling you that we are all human at the end of the day and the only difference is the path of life we walk on . Thankyou
    Nick

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  23. I tend to talk really fast and have trouble finding the right words to say. Most intimidating are people who I find attractive due to intelligence or looks and I get completely shutdown on how to approach them. Also, not being in the place I want to be in life tends to hold me back on how interesting I may seem to another.

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  24. I’m a chicken approaching females. especially attractive ones. I have always been shy since I’ve been rejected in kindergarten by my friends and girlfriend.

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  25. Thank you so much for sharing these wonderful ideas. I can’t wait to try them out and see how exciting the results will be.Am naturally an introverted person but am sure that doesn’t mean am not capable of being social and keep a conversation with people… I think that the main thing holding me back socially is the fact that am dissatisfied with the life am currently living and that makes me feel like I really have nothing to offer others.. I have generally been bad at keeping in touch with family and friends and this is really eating me up.Talk about many things to work on!

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  26. Thanks for your advice. I actually struggle to talk to people I know well because of the awkward silence and the fact that the topic dies after I talk. I’ve meaning to improve on this but I wasn’t aware of the fact that my mindset was that conversations had to be linear. I’ll try to implement your tips.

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  27. It happens to me a lot. I feel like a responsibility to keep coming up with something in order to keep on making the conversation go on. If I fail, I feel kinda rejected.

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  28. It’s happened alot to me , and it was akward , but I started to talk more than before , there’s still these silence moments but I’m in progress .

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  29. I too have faced the awkwardness of silence and not knowing what to say. Now I have a new tool to use. I will be implementing right away in the very next social situation I am in. You are awesome!!!

    Reply
  30. My frail body build which has been center of remarks with every person I have dealt with. I am super conscious about that and my knocked knees which appear crooked and grab attention when I walk.

    Reply
    • Erica
      I feel awkward making a contribution to a conversation because I am worried that I will lose the thread of what I am saying, or not be able to find the words I want. Even though I know I have a good vocabulary and can express myself well when given time to think. Any advice on this please?

      Reply
  31. i often face the problem of awkward silence and the fear of it makes me avoid talking to people. i worry that i will seem uninteresting. thanks for the tips.

    Reply
  32. I normally don’t have problems talking to strangers but I get uncomfortable when subjects die out.

    I think the conversational threading is interesting, but isn’t it a bit contriversal with the OFC method where I’m not supposed to be thinking about the next step, only being interested in what the other person is saying.

    Since you’ve been working with nervous people I’m wondering if you’ve got any methods to avoid blushing when being nervous. For me it occurs after during presentations mostly or drinking, and since I do a lot of presentations at work it’s causing me a bit of a problem.

    Reply
    • That’s a great observation Karolina, you seem to have understood our material on a very deep level that we didn’t explain enough.

      In short, I’d say OFC is very effective to reduce anxiety and nervosity. So when that is your main problem, focus on OFC. But when you are not that nervous, conversational threading can be of more use, at least for a while to learn how to find new subjects easily. I’m very interested to hear about your experience with the two “opposing” methods. Which one works best for you?

      I’m not that familiar with blushing yet. Have you tried OFC? I’m thinking that focusing outwards should reduce blushing since blushing is triggered by self-conscious thoughts. I will research this topic more closely and write an article on it in the future because you are not the first to ask.

      Reply
  33. It’s not so much what’s holding me back, but im finding it difficult to talk to influencers online. I’m following a lot of Instagram accounts which post meaningful comments and inspiring photos and I would really like to have a conversation about photography & more, with them. However, I feel like I don’t know what to say, in order to start this type of conversation.

    Reply
  34. What about when we can’t think of anything to ask/talk about previous conversations? I mean, I have tried that before but it seems that sometimes I am so worried in not hitting an uncomfortable silence that my mind keeps racing and I can’t even think of interesting questions to make about previous conversations because my mind is so hyper…

    Reply
  35. I’m loving your blog so far, David, and I feel like I’ve barely even scratched the surface of what you have to offer as far as social skills go. You recommended sharing the baggage that we may be carrying and I came here to do just that ?

    As a kid I always felt like more of an outsider than someone who knew the ropes of being sociable or fitting into my environment. I’m now in college and I fit in better than ever but i feel like I still lack in terms of being conversational. Maybe it was because of bullies from childhood or just not really clicking with classmates as I got older but I’ve kind of become a stoic with a kind of resting pissed face. I feel like this gives off a negative vibe to others that I’m dying to overcome.

    So far your advice seems awesome but I’m not anywhere near through with all your tips. What do you think is the most important article you have on your site?

    Reply
  36. thanks for the tips david 🙂 my biggest problem is that i just say stupid things when i dont really mean it. i would just want to be in control of what i say and enjoy talking with people more 🙂

    Reply
  37. What’s holding me back is probably mostly that I don’t meet enough new people, I just don’t feel it’s worth trying until I feel I got a better chance. Because it takes so much energy to get to know someone and then you don’t even know if they are gonna want to hang out with you or if they are just gonna be “busy”. That’s why I read your material, I hope it helps to give me an edge!

    Reply

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