Have you ever wanted to start a conversation with someone in your mind goes blank, or worse you talk yourself out of the conversation without even attempting to say a word? How about a time when you did start a conversation, but had no idea how you did it (asking yourself later how did I do that)?

Many people experience this everyday and that’s why I created the OPEN formula. This framework is designed to allow anyone to start a conversation with ease.  In this article we’ll explore the first part of OPEN.

In the book, First Impressions for the Business Professional – Why Some of Us Excel and Most of Us Fail, you’ll get an in-depth look at the OPEN formula designed to help you craft the perfect elevator pitch with a number of elevator pitch examples.

Trying to start a conversation with a stranger can be nerve-racking. One thing I’ve learned in business communication is “never attack, always react. What do I mean? Never ask a question to just ask a question hoping to start a general conversation. Most people can see right through that.

So what do you do? Observe your environment which is the first part of the OPEN formula. This is the key to starting a conversation with ease.

Here are two quick examples:

The first way is to observe your environment and make a comment. Of course, the comment should be something positive. It is almost human nature and much easier to find something wrong, but starting a conversation in a negative way reflects poorly on you and increases your chances for a negative snap judgment.

When following these steps it’s okay to throw out test questions to get a feel for the person. Here is an example:

You:             “How are you doing?” Remember to smile. Observe the response. Some people just don’t want to be bothered or their mind may be somewhere else at the time. Whenever this is the case don’t take things personally. If you get a mediocre response, you can still make a comment. A sample conversation might be:

You:             “That book looks familiar, what’s the title?”

Contact:     “The title is XYZ. Have you read it?”

You:             “No, I’ve never read that book, but it looks interesting. Can you tell me what it’s about?”

In this example you observed the book, asked about it, and started to build a conversation about it.

The second way is giving a compliment. Observe the person you want to talk to and find something they are wearing that you can identify with and give a compliment on.

Here are some examples of what you can talk about:

  1. Shoes (always a safe bet)
  2. Accessories

There are literally dozens of ways you can observe your environment to start a conversation. The important thing to remember is, you’ll never run out of things to say again when trying to start a conversation. With a little practice with the OPEN formula, you’ll learn how to start a conversation with anyone, and connect with them with ease.

Key Lesson: You can always start a conversation by observing your environment and building on it.

Checkout our free elevator pitch builder.