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September 2014


Conversation refers to an informal exchange of ideas by spoken words involving two or more people.

Conversational settings vary from formal dinner parties to family gatherings.

Conversation in formal settings can loosely be translated to networking. How you engage in conversation in such scenarios can make or break your career and make a difference in your life.

We have all been faced with a situation that calls for you to engage in conversation and were faced with a fear of what to say, how to say it and when to say it. It is our hope that this Newsletter will give you insight and enable you become a better conversationalist.

Guide on Conversation

Conversation Starters

1. Give a compliment:

Single out someone with something lovely or eye catching. It could be as simple as a neckpiece on a lady or a tie on a gentleman.

For Example: “That is a very lovely necklace you are wearing” or “I really like your necklace”

The person will respond and you can hence introduce yourself and strike up a conversation for the love of jewelry and places to shop that can gradually move on to other topics.

2. Ask a Question

Do some research before hand on some of the people you are most likely to meet. Use that information to formulate questions. You may or may not have the answer but it serves for great conversation starters.

For Example: “Mrs Jane, I understand you were blessed with a child, how old is she/he now?”

It is no secret that most people enjoy talking about themselves and their family so this will be a very good note to begin a conversation on.

3. Find out about their interests and hobbies

People like to talk about their passion, interests and hobbies because it is what they like to spend time doing.

For Example:

  • “Do you like to read?”
  • “What kind of music do you like”
  • “Do you like animals?” If so, “What’s your favourite animal?

4. Ask about their travels

If you have researched you are able to tell if the person has travelled and can thus ask a question related to that.

For Example:

  • “What was your best or worst vacation?”
  • “How is Kampala? I have never been”

If you do not know for sure if they have travelled and to where then you can ask neutral questions
For Example:

  • “If you had a chance to move to another country, which would it be?”
  • “What would be your ideal vacation right now?

 From there you can hence build up on conversation using follow up questions denoted from their reply.

5. Pick on a point of reference related to your setting.

For Example: “Traffic today is un-natural; did you have as much trouble as I did getting here?”

Depending on their answer you can build on more;

  • “You are lucky, what route did you use?”
  • “It took me over twenty minutes, how about you?”

Conversation Starters

Introducing Yourself

1. Keep it Short and Simple (KISS)

Start with a smile and share only the bare essentials to allow conversation to build on the individual asking for more information.

2. Be Humble

Do not immediately throw your achievements in the person’s face.

For Example: “My name is Jane Doe. I am the best Public Relations Manager Public Image has ever had.”

A simple HR manager will do.

3. Be a good listener:

Part of your introduction is to inquire as well about the person you are introducing yourself to.

For Example: “My name is Jane Doe... May I please have your name?”

4. Be contextual:

Match your information to the setting.

For Example: At a company event “Good evening, my name is Jane Doe. I am the Human Resources Manager.

Tips to know if you are boring the person you are speaking to:

1. Body Language:

They keep uncomfortably fidgeting. They cannot maintain eye contact with you but instead keep darting their eyes around the room.

2. Imbalance of talking time:

A person fully interested in your conversational topic will have some things to say themselves, be it contributively or inquisitively. If you are doing the bulk of the talking then they are not fully engaged.

3. Change in Topic:

Some people may be forward enough to change the topic you are speaking on. Clearly that person is no longer interested in entertaining your conversation.
As such, after realizing that the person is not interested in conversing, here are some Example statements and questions you can use to escape:

  • “Please excuse me; I need to use the bathroom.”
  •  “My apologies, I have just spotted a lady/ gentleman I really must speak to. Please excuse me”
  • “I’m going to refill my drink. Can I get you anything?”

 (If the person takes you up on your offer, deliver the drink and keep on moving)

Exercise with GDC on the CEO POSE {Gentlemen, note how you can POSITIVELY stand out in a bright colored shoe}

(From Left) Mr. Derek Bbanga, Mr. Edward Kasyoka and Mr. David Mogere deliberating before commencing the training for International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)


Get in Touch

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Please contact Angela for one-on-one ladies image consultation


In this month's newsletter we give you tips on how to engage in conversation in various settings

We hope that you become better conversationalists and avoid awkward silence scenarios.

We would like you to also share your thoughts.


Public Image has a unique approach to building individual and corporate achievement. Business etiquette, creating a positive image though posture and dress, soft skills, communication proficiency, personal branding and networking expertise are key elements in the Public Image approach to developing professional skills. Projecting a positive image for business will give you an edge in today's competitive market.

Your questions answered

Q: How do I approach a small group of people whose conversation I would like to join?

A: Approach the group and say: "Excuse me, I am very sorry to interrupt, I would like to introduce myself." Once you introduce yourself, request to join in on the conversation. "If you don't mind I would like to join in on your conversations it seemed quite interesting from where I was standing" and then give your best smile.

If just passing by and do not wish to join in you may say, "My apologies again for interrupting, please carry on" and leave the group.


  • Maintain eye contact whilst conversing with people.
  • Avoid too much interrogation. Do not make someone feel that you have placed them under a microscope.
  • If at a dining set-up avoid speaking with your mouth full as well as give a person time to chew and swallow before engaging them in a conversation.
  • BE Interesting; If you are going to talk to people ensure you know what you are talking about. One way is to keep abreast with current events.
  • KEEP smiling; a person with a smile is more pleasant to converse with than someone who appears irritated, grumpy, angry or arrogant.
  • BE confident and comfortable with yourself this allows you to approach and engage in conversation more easily and freely.
  • KEEP a funny story, anecdote or joke at hand. Making people laugh will make them instantly at ease and more receptive to you
  • Ask questions that require more of an answer than ‘Yes’ or ‘No’
  • LISTEN as much as possible. If you are alert, you are able to pick on points to build on to keep conversation flowing.
  • PRACTICE! Practice your speaking skills as often as possible and you will notice that conversation becomes easier.

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"The first ingredient in conversation is truth, the next good sense, the third good humour, and the fourth wit."
William Temple

"The art of conversation is the art of hearing as well as being heard"
William Hazlitt

"Good conversational debate is an end in itself, and talking for the love of conversation is what makes us human"
Bryce Courtenay