For some reason, I’ve been meeting a lot of people who don’t know when it’s time to stop talking. Most of the time they’re meeting me after I teach, or it’s an interview, and I know they mean well, but it’s driving me nuts. Obviously, they’re nervous, and most people talk when they’re nervous. Plus, I think they feel an obligation to pitch themselves and simply don’t know when to stop. I keep looking for openings to jump in and change the subject or bring the conversation to a halt, but with some folks, that’s nearly impossible. So here’s my advice:
No matter how important the meeting, or nervous you might be, take a deep breath.
Think “soundbites.” You’re not having a deep, intellectual conversation here, you’re sharing your project, your idea, or your resume with someone. Allow them space to comment. Zip it occasionally and check their reaction. Besides, you’ll learn more from listening to them, so allow time for that to happen.
I know there’s a little voice in your head telling you that if you stop talking, they’ll walk away. But you can be sure that if you DON’T stop talking, they’ll stop listening. Even if they continue nodding and smiling.
Never forget that conversation is a two-way experience.