How to Be the Life of the Party
"How do I become the life of the party?" Every so often, I hear this question. People are in awe at those who come into a party, seeming to know everyone. Shaking hands, laughing, cheering with almost everyone at a party. They exude this positivity that's contagious.
Growing a social group out of a few strangers to now, Chicago's largest offline group with over 25,000 members and counting, in just 3 years, I think I may have the answer to this question ;).
Alright, now that my modesty is still in tact, how and what makes a person the life of the party? The good news is that this isn't a "talent" you're born with. If you know us here at Meet People Chicago, you know that we strongly believe that social skills are just that: skills. Meaning you can learn them and anyone can get great at meeting others. Everyone starts somewhere and you can grow yourself to become the life of the party if you focus on a few, key traits.
Without further ado, here are my 6 things that one can do to achieve being the life of the party.
Seriously. Smile. Don't be so serious in a room full of strangers! Think about it, when you go to a party and see someone without a friendly face, do you think, "Oh, he looks fun. Let me talk to him." Heck no! Instead, you gravitate towards people who have a smile. So, c'mon, if you are one of those way too serious folks, go to the washroom mirror and start practicing a friendly smile. :)
Now that you've learned how to smile, (lol) laugh! I don't mean just randomly...no, don't walk into a party and start belching out hyena laughters. That might end the party and we're trying to liven it up! Laugh as in, if someone says something funny, laugh with them. Tell a story, be expressive, and if it's funny or interesting, laugh to it. Everyone likes a person with a sense of humor.
3. Ask questions, answer questions and reciprocate
So, you can move your mouth now outside of eating and drinking at a party. Good. Let's make it more interesting... now let's get to know someone!
For some people, this is hard. How do I start a conversation? Let me tell you a secret. It's super easy! This is how I do it. Here's an example of my play by play:
Someone walks into a party. With good posture, I smile at her with good eye contact (not creepy!). Naturally, she smiles back. Seeing a connection, I say "Hi, how are you?". Guess what she says? "Hi, I'm good, how are you?".
Okay, simple right? Now you may ask, how do you keep this going? Good question. The answer is...*drum roll*...with more questions!
Play by play continues:
Me: What's your name?
Her: I'm Gigi.
Me: Hi Gigi. I'm Peter. Nice to meet you.
Gigi: Nice to meet you to Peter.
Me: So, Gigi where are you from?
Gigi: I'm from San Diego but I just moved to Chicago a month ago.
Me: Oh really? I love San Diego! It's a nice city.
Gigi: Yeah, I love it too. I miss the nice weather already!
Me: Yeah, I know. It's amazing there. So how do you like Chicago so far?
...and you get the gist. But do you see what just happened? By me asking a question, she answered. And if she asks me a question, I'll answer too. Now this happens to me all the time where I start a question and the conversation lasts many minutes. Try it, it's really fun! The key is to be genuinely interested in the other person.
4. Tell stories
We're all interesting in some ways. We each have been through unique events and life experiences that have never happened to anyone else. This is an absolutely great segue way into making conversation: tell people stories. We all have stories. That's what life is about. Examples include your travels, the amazing food you had recently, the newest hot spots you checked out, the interesting documentary or youtube video you watched, etc.
But remember the key is don't force stories onto people. What I mean by this is only tell stories in the right moment and context. For example, if a group is talking about sports, you probably don't want to mention that time in Amsterdam...that doesn't fit with the context.
Also the most interesting stories about you are sometimes the most embarrassing ones. Don't be shy telling about the moments in your life you are not proud of. Remember that's the past. We all laugh about our past transgressions. It's funny as long we don't do it again. Be a little self-deprecating. People love that trait in someone, even if they are not self-deprecating themselves. It shows vulnerability and confidence which creates a deeper connection with others.
5. Show body language
Alright, now that you are a funny, smily, laughable, amazing story teller person, let's make sure any physical awkwardness you may have disappears. So, in my play by play earlier, I was in good posture and was smiling. Right? That's a start. But having good posture does not mean being rigid. Smiling doesn't mean we just had botox injection or plastic surgery. It's very important that we are loose, that our body is not uptight. If you are nervous or try too hard to have a good impression, you tend to become too stiff. Ever wonder why people drink at parties? This is why! It's one way to loosen up. Just try to let yourself go. If you do, you'll feel more natural. Like, when you laugh, you'll laugh at ease. Like, when you tell your story, you'll do it at a great pace and volume. Like, when you talk to that person, he or she will think you're a natural talker because your body radiates confidence and fun.
6. Be (Loud) Proud
This final advice is related to Body Language. But different enough that it warrants its own section. Be Proud. Be Loud. Now I have loud in parenthesis because not everyone can be loud. And you DON'T have to be loud to be a fun person. But now that you know how to smile, laugh and talk to people, be proud and by extension, be loud, by telling the people about it. Talk a little louder if you need to. Show a little more animation than usual. As long you don't over do it, people think you're just a super fun guy. So, go ahead and be proud and loud!
Now ALL of the above have a common thread. Do you know what it is?
Okay, did you say "Being Engaged"? Every thing that you should be doing, you're engaging with someone. If a stranger feels you are engaged to his or her conversation, he/she will engage you back. If you laugh at their jokes, they'll appreciate it and laugh at yours. If you listen to their stories, they'll most likely listen to yours. But number 5 and number 6 is as important as number 1 to 4. Because without showing "fun" in a conversation, the engagement can eventually go flat. That's why it is very important you have the right body language, the right laughter, the right amount of eye contact, the right amount of volume and animation. The thing is for most of us, all this "right amount" comes naturally. For someone who is a bit more shy or has less social experiences, don't worry. Just follow the people you are engaging with. See their cues. And in no time you will be as fun as them. In fact...you just might become the life of the party!