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  • Hello, everybody.

  • I'm going to start with a question.

  • How many of you know the person sitting next to you from before today?

  • Interesting.

  • So, do you remember the first conversation you ever had with that person?

  • You know conversations are links.

  • Let's imagine every conversation to be a tiny metal link.

  • And every time you talk to a stranger,

  • a metal link is formed.

  • And every conversation that you have after that moment,

  • the link gets stronger and stronger.

  • And every day each one of us meets so many strangers:

  • the grocery guy, the cab guy

  • maybe the receptionist at a new office you went to.

  • And with every conversation, we build new links.

  • Until finally at the end,

  • we've created a kind of massive World Wide Web of conversation.

  • World Wide Web.

  • It's a catchy word. I think I've heard that somewhere.

  • That's it, right? A conversation. It's a fascinating thing.

  • A conversation is an adventure.

  • A conversation gives you a whole new perspective.

  • A conversation opens a door.

  • Conversations can make war and conversations can make peace.

  • And conversations define who we are as a human race.

  • Think about this.

  • Every single person in your life was once a stranger to you.

  • And you knew nothing about them until you had that first conversation.

  • So I'm here today to tell you to talk to strangers,

  • and to have a conversation.

  • And I'm here to tell you how.

  • Seven ways that you can make a conversation with almost anyone.

  • I'm a radio presenter

  • and I love talking to people.

  • I do. I love it.

  • And I'm so glad that I do it for a living.

  • Here's what my day is like.

  • Every single morning, I go into an empty room,

  • and I put on a mic,

  • and I have a conversation with 1.6 million people ...

  • that I can't see.

  • Yeah.

  • You know what the hardest part is, though?

  • It's time.

  • In a four-hour show, I get 20 minutes.

  • That's all the talk there is.

  • And in 20 minutes I have to convince you that I am your best friend.

  • How do I do that?

  • How do I establish a connection?

  • I have 20 minutes to inform you, to excite you, to engage with you

  • but most importantly,

  • 20 out of the 20 times that I switch on that mic,

  • I have to leave a smile on your face.

  • Except, I can't see you, I know nothing about you,

  • and I have no way of gauging your reactions.

  • How do you do it? How do you talk to a stranger?

  • Well, my nine years in radio have taught me these simple little tricks.

  • Strangers,

  • they are everywhere.

  • And we've always been told, "Don't talk to strangers!"

  • But I beg to differ.

  • Every stranger comes with an opportunity,

  • an opportunity to learn something new,

  • an opportunity to have an experience you've never had

  • or hear a story that you've never heard before.

  • And you've had that moment, right?

  • You're in the room with someone you don't know,

  • and you look across the room, you see a stranger, and you think,

  • "I want to talk to this person."

  • And you can almost hear the first word but it just won't come out,

  • it kind of gets stuck about here,

  • it kind of goes up and down

  • and you don't know -

  • You know what?

  • Here's my advice: Just say it.

  • What's the worst that can happen?

  • They won't talk to you? Well, they're not talking to you now.

  • The first word floodgates.

  • I truly believe that the first word acts as a floodgate.

  • You know, once you said the first word, everything else just flows.

  • So keep it simple.

  • A "Hi," a "Hey," a "Hello."

  • And do what every good bowler does.

  • Just gather the enthusiasm, the positivity, the energy,

  • put on a big smile and say, "Hi!"

  • I know. There's going to be that strange moment right now.

  • Turn to someone sitting next to you, stick your hand out and say hello.

  • Go on.

  • (Laughter)

  • I love the awkward laughter.

  • "Why is she making us do this?"

  • The first word floodgates.

  • You know, here's a challenge we face every day.

  • Time.

  • We have 90 seconds on radio,

  • and we have to make that conversation with a stranger memorable.

  • So how do you do it?

  • What's the biggest challenge?

  • Honestly,

  • if we get stuck in the rut of:

  • "Hi!" "Hey!"

  • "How are you?" "I'm fine."

  • "What's going on?" "Nothing much."

  • "Same old." "So tell me what's new?"

  • There you go, 45 seconds down, wasted.

  • Right?

  • So, here's my advice:

  • skip the small talk and ask a really personal question.

  • And don't be afraid.

  • Trust me.

  • You will be surprised how much people are willing to share if you just ask.

  • So ask any kind of personal question.

  • Maybe: Interesting name.

  • How did your parents think of it? Is there a story behind it?

  • Or ...

  • How long have you lived in this city?

  • And do you remember the first day you landed here?

  • You see, answers to those questions are always something unique,

  • always something personal.

  • My favorite one to try is:

  • Where do you come from? And where does your family live?

  • Unfailingly,

  • every single time I sit in a cab, I do this.

  • I ask that question.

  • Where do you come from? And where does your family live?

  • Let me tell you a little story.

  • I was coming home one night ...

  • I get into this taxi, open the door, sit down and I say,

  • "Where are you from? Where does your family live?"

  • And the 60-year-old Pakistani cab-driver goes on to tell me

  • all about his life in Peshawar.

  • We talked about politics,

  • we talked about music, family, his wife, his farm.

  • And 20 minutes later, he is convinced that I am the perfect bride

  • for his 26-year-old college-educated son from Peshawar.

  • (Laughter)

  • And as I'm getting out of the taxi,

  • he is taking out a passport-sized photograph with this look of enthusiasm.

  • I have to say, it was a very difficult goodbye.

  • But the moral of the story, really,

  • is what starts with a "Hello" can end with a marriage proposal.

  • And that is a warning.

  • (Laughter)

  • Step three.

  • Find the "me too"s.

  • Have you ever met someone

  • who starts a conversation like they're starting a debate?

  • "I am from Delhi." "I hate Delhi."

  • (Laughter)

  • Yeah? Nothing kills a conversation like a negative.

  • When you meet someone for the first time

  • make an effort to find the one thing

  • that you and that other person might have in common.

  • When you start at that point and then move outward from there,

  • you will find that all of a sudden the conversation becomes a lot easier.

  • And that's because both of you suddenly are on the same side of something.

  • And that's a really powerful feeling.

  • Now, what could you possibly have in common with a stranger you ask?

  • Could be anything, right?

  • You're both in the same place at the same time,

  • maybe you're from the same country,

  • maybe you both like the winter

  • or you're longing for it to rain.

  • I don't know, you'd find something.

  • When you find a "me too",

  • you automatically have a kind of buy-in from the other person.

  • Trust me, that's helpful.

  • Pay a unique compliment.

  • I read somewhere that people will forget what you do,

  • and they'll forget what you say,

  • but they will never forget how you made them feel.

  • So be generous.

  • And go out and give someone a nice full compliment.

  • So, I have this belief about a "compliment immunity meter",

  • and it comes from this experience I had

  • when I met this gorgeous supermodel.

  • And I look at her and I say,

  • "Wow! You are beautiful!"

  • And there is no reaction on her face.

  • And I think to myself, "How?"

  • That's when I realized,

  • she is immune to the word "beautiful."

  • She's probably heard it a hundred thousand times today.

  • And if she's on social media,

  • she's heard it a million times today.

  • There are some words that each of us have developed an immunity to.

  • It could be "nice," it could be "awesome," it could be "cool" ...

  • Stay away from these.

  • Try and construct a compliment that's unique and genuine,

  • and you don't have to lie.

  • Really.

  • When you look at someone and say,

  • "I love how when you smile,

  • it's like your nose smiles, and then your eyes smile,

  • and your ears smile, even your forehead smiles

  • and suddenly, the whole person is just smiling."

  • You see,

  • I hope that's a compliment you're not going to forget for a while.

  • Pay a unique and genuine compliment.

  • Ask for an opinion.

  • All of us have opinions. Trust me.

  • And we all want them to be heard

  • and everybody wants validation.

  • So go on and ask for an opinion,

  • and that's when you open up a two-way street.

  • That is when the real communication begins,

  • and you will be surprised how much you can pick up about a person

  • just by asking their opinion on something pretty generic.

  • Here's a mistake that some people make.

  • They ask your opinion about something really difficult.

  • It feels almost intimidating.

  • Somewhere in a room, full of very well-informed people,

  • and someone was to come up to me and say,

  • "So what do you think about the way

  • the oil prices have affected the real estate market in Dubai?"

  • I feel a bit cornered.

  • I feel like I might fail, and this is an examination,

  • and that's the lesson.

  • Nobody needs to fail at a first-time conversation.

  • Just ask something simple. Keep it generic.

  • How do you like your coffee?

  • When did you watch your last movie? What did you think of it?

  • And when somebody gives you their opinion:

  • really listen.

  • Don't listen to reply. Listen to listen.

  • There's a difference.

  • And that brings me to my next point.

  • Be present.

  • I know you've been through this.

  • I know I have.

  • You're pouring your heart out to someone,

  • and they are like this,

  • "Yeah, yeah, go on, keep talking.

  • I can multitask!

  • What's with Wi-Fi?"

  • (Laughter)

  • You know, when someone's trying to communicate with you,

  • the least you can do is really be in that conversation.

  • Just be wholeheartedly present,

  • just be there.

  • And - oh! - my favorite part: make eye contact.

  • Trust me, eye contact is where all the magic happens.

  • You can feel the conversation.

  • And trust me, when you are looking at someone in the eye,

  • nine out of ten times, they will not dare look away, right?

  • (Laughter)

  • Now, if only I could look into the eyes of 1.6 million people,

  • I would not have to worry about you guys tuning out during the ad breaks.

  • That brings me to this, my favorite point because I think it's got a catchy name.

  • Name, place, animal, thing.