1. Don’t ramble, and stay positive.
This simple advice comes from Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert: “Brevity will slow the inevitable decline in your popularity caused by talking. And saying something positive as often as possible will be a mood booster to whoever is in the room with you. If you set a positive tone, it rubs off.”
2. Act like your heroes
Write down the names of the ten most interesting people you know, and list three characteristics that earned them a place on the list, suggests author and speaker Scott Ginsberg on his blog. Then look for patterns and figure out a way to incorporate those characteristics into your own public persona.
3. Nail that “tell me about yourself” question
You know the details intimately, but distilling the most interesting parts of your life into cocktail chatter can be a challenge. Stanford Graduate School of Business professor Chip Heath suggests applying one of these three plots to your life story: either the challenge plot (you overcame an obstacle to get to where you are); the creativity plot (you decided not to follow a traditional path); or the connection plot (you did something similar to the person asking).
4. Ask, and listen.
Start with the other person’s hobbies, family, or upcoming travel plans, and go from there. If you know about the subject, conversation will flow. If you don’t, continue asking questions to understand more—and pay attention to the answers.