Anyone can become a smooth talker; it just takes a little practice.
Step 1: Be well-informed Begin every day with a quick review of the news so you're never stuck for a conversation starter.
Step 2: Find an opener If you prefer a more personal approach, quickly scan a person's outfit for something you can use to initiate a conversation.
Step 3: Start with a smile Before you say a word, give them a special smile: Make eye contact with the person, wait a second, and then slowly let a smile spread across your face. Research shows this little trick immediately charms people.
TIP: Make your opening line a question that can't be answered with a simple "yes" or "no."
Step 4: Really listen Listen for casual asides; people often make references to topics they love. Prove you're really listening by remarking on something they just said.
TIP: Make sure to say "you" more than "I" during the chat.
Step 5: Don't seem overeager Resist the urge to yelp "Me, too!" or agree with everything the person says. It will make you seem needy and insincere.
Step 6: Do some talking Don't turn the encounter into an interrogation. Though you want to encourage the other person to talk about themselves, you need to contribute to the dialogue, too.
TIP: Steer clear of topics you're overly passionate about; you run the risk of monopolizing the conversation or lecturing.
Step 7: Don't overstay your welcome If you realize the other person isn't saying much, tell them you've enjoyed talking to them and move on.
FACT: According to a Stanford study, the most successful business-school graduates were the ones comfortable having conversations with strangers, not the ones with the best grades.