Every approach begins with an opener, the springboard to start a conversation. This early moment sets the tone for the interaction and breaks the ice.
Any bullet-proof opener will help you achieve three goals:
1. It’s an un-threatening approach to open the person or group up for having a conversation
2. It stirs up curiosity and captures the person or group’s imagination
3. It’s a springboard for additional follow-up conversational threads
What Makes an Opener “bullet-proof”?
There a few ingredients that allow you to approach smoothly without seeming awkward and give you a built-in “safety net” to eject if necessary. Here are the ingredients:
1. ROOT – The first question that runs through anyone’s mind who is approached by a stranger is this:
“Why is this guy talking to me? What does he want?”
The root in an opener communicates from the beginning WHY you are talking to the person. It explains the reason of your approach.
2. TIME CONSTRAINT – The second question that crosses the mind of anyone who is approached:
“How long do I have to talk to this guy? When will he leave again?”
(She obviously doesn’t know yet how interesting you really are :)) By embedding a time constraint in your opener, you will answer this question from the beginning. A time constraint looks like this:
“I have only a minute. I’m already late for a meeting.” It also has a second advantage. If you
need to eject, you can, say at any time: “I have to run. Pleasure meeting you.”
3. OPEN-ENDED Question. If you ask a Yes/No question it will be a VERY short conversation. Posing questions that elicit a longer response will give you more opportunities to start another conversational thread and more time to think.
Here’s an example of a bullet-proof opinion opener:
You: Hey guys, let me get your opinion on something. I’m trying to help my friend and I’d like to get a female opinion. (This is the root explaining why you are asking the question)
Group of Girls: What?
You: Okay, I’ve only got a minute. Do you follow the advice given to you by your horoscopes? I have a reason for asking. Let me just get your opinions then I’ll tell you why I’m asking.
(There’s the time constraint and the open ended question)
Group of Girls: …
(Sometimes this will already start a conversation. But there is more. The second part of this opener transitions into a little story)
You: The reason I’m asking is because my friend met a girl at a party last weekend, who said that her horoscope told her that she would meet her future husband. They actually hooked up. Now, the strange thing is, ever since then, my friend can’t stop thinking of her. He always wants to hang out with this girl, 24/7. He says he’s in love with her. Do you think it’s the horoscope’s prediction or just psychology?
Group of Girls: …
(This will lead to conversations about astrology, destiny and a lot of other topics.)
Keep in mind: A good opener is NOT just about the words you say but about HOW you communicate in these 4 levels:
Level 1: The words that you say.
Level 2: The vocal intonation you use.
Level 3: The type of eye contact, facial expression, gestures, and body language you display.
Level 4: The attitude you are feeling, and the energy you are projecting.
What does that mean?
It means just because you know the WORDS, does not mean you can USE the opener. It comes down to PRACTICE and REPETITION.
You will find tons of great (working) openers in the book Magic Bullets. Get it! It will change your life (no exaggeration!).