The holidays might mean catching up with relatives that you haven’t talked to for a while. That’s why we thought a few advice on conversation will come in handy.

How can you make dazzling conversation with anyone you meet? There is both an art and a science to effective communication.

Whether you’re going to a holiday party, networking event or cocktail hour, meeting contacts and making connections can be a daunting task. Here are my favorite tips for great conversation with anyone, anywhere and anytime:

1. Start off Strong

Start off the conversation with a “how” or “why” question. People will give you more thoughtful answers and really think about why you’re asking them. Say, for instance, “How did you meet the host?” That way you’ll learn about the person you’re talking to, as well as the host.

2. Trips and Adventures

Ask people if they have any trips or fun adventures coming up.

3. Foster Excitement

Ask people if anything exciting happened to them that day.

4. Stories

Tell a story. People love funny anecdotes and it makes your conversation more personal right off the bat.

5. Break it Down

Break down a question for someone. Instead of being general and saying, “How are you doing?,” ask, “How’s Fall treating you so far?” Frame it in the context of time so he or she can thoughtfully answer the question.

6. Be the Highlight

Ask a person, “Have any highlights today?” Not only is this person going to feel good because he or she gets to talk about him or herself, but it also starts off the conversation on a positive note.

7. The Handshake

Use a firm handshake when you meet someone. Don’t do the “death grip,” but make sure that your firmness level communicates that you’re confident in yourself.

8. The Eyes Have It

Make eye contact with someone. Power gaze at people; this involves looking at people’s eyes and foreheads, and not below their mouths. That’s only for social situations.

9. Power Pose

Don’t stand slumped over. Instead, do a power pose. Stand with your feet apart and your arms loose at your sides. People are going to be attracted to you and want to talk to you because you seem confident and in control.

10. Be Anti-Boring

Everyone starts off conversations the same way. They say, “What do you do?” or “Where are you from?” Instead, ask someone, “What passion projects are you working on?” or “What gets you up in the morning?”

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