There are some easy speaking techniques for keeping the conversation directed at you even when you have nothing much to say pertinent to the subject being discussed. I don’t intend to validate these techniques and offer an opinion whether they are good or bad in the loose sense but only to bring attention to them. Thus you may observe them more easily once you have been made intellectually conscious of them. I will attach names to these techniques so that they are easier to remember and to discuss if the need arises. For some other thoughts on this subject see also:
- How to achieve dominance in a coffee shop. — Physical Techniques,
- Coffee shop information control techniques. — Social Techniques.
Speaking Techniques —The easiest and best way to have the subject turn to you is to say something interesting which everyone else wants to hear. Something which enhances their understanding of the subject at hand enough to be worthwhile but not so innovative as to be disruptive. Nor should it be so interesting that it changes the subject. It should be on subject! This makes puns, side jokes and off to the side remarks destructive to the flow of conversation and to be avoided. I must agree with Oscar Wilde’s sentiment, “One must never let a really bad pun slip away unpunished.” Your conversations should be contrived to include other people and draw out some special information from each of them which they would be interested in contributing to the conversation. That is all obvious and is simply a development of common courtesy. However, if you are intending to control the conversation it must revolve around you, so you must keep the other peoples eyes and ears pointed in your general direction and forego any normal civility lurking in your heart.
Here’s a few sly techniques which are easy to do which can become automatic and can work very well: Develop the habit of saying something to every sentence uttered by any other person at the table. “Yes, uh-uh, ya, um, no, whatever,” — while at the same time looking into the speaker’s eyes. It doesn’t need to be very loud but just loud enough to be heard. This forces the other person to direct every sentence of the conversation toward you, even if they are in fact responding to something said by someone else. Insist, to yourself at least, on responding to everything being said by anyone and everyone. It is very easy to do and not offensive to other people, until they realize that you are doing it. Once they realize you are buting in on everything they might label you a, Yes Buter. That technique is very different from the common No Buter who is mearly chiseling into the conversation on some quibbling detail.
Another easy technique is to create a controversy about anything being said. This is easily done by simply saying, “No! You’re wrong!” to anything whatsoever being said by anyone whomsoever. The more common the knowledge and the more truthfully and innocently obvious the facts being stated are the better—you are trying to create dissension focused on you. This is especially effective about the usual moral and ethical issues of the current news media stories. Putting a little emotional energy behind the denial makes your interlocutors think it might be important to you and therefore they should listen to what you have to say. Any issue in the news has at least two points of view or it wouldn’t be in the news. The news media are only interested in things which their public will find interesting, disturbing and stupid. Therefore anything in the news is automatically a good topic to take up a controversial position upon. If you are opposed to what everyone else is for you automatically have every ones criticism directed towards you. You automatically have half the floor and more because your position is controversial, so you get even more talk time. Of course everyone is trying to put you down and prove that you are wrong and that you are in fact more of an idiot than they thought and possibly insane — but you have the floor, you have their attention — you have the most valuable thing in a coffee shop setting … other people’s attention.
When all else fails and no one finds anything you have to say to be interesting and the various techniques for bringing attention upon yourself have been discovered and countered by someone more interesting or more cunning you can always turn to the person next to you and begin a Side Chatting. This consists simply of bumping the person and asking them a question which they must answer. It can be anything but possibly challenging their opinion on whatever was just on the floor and they didn’t get a chance to get their full bits in, would be a good start. It would be best employed when whoever was speaking was directing their words at someone on the other side of the table. That way no one would notice how you peeled off the person. At that moment you could employ the Twisting-Chin technique and as they turn to listen, you move slightly more behind them. That pulls their attention away from the other people in the table conversation and focuses their attention fully upon you. If you can keep it on you for a few moments the other conversation might be forced to come over to whatever it is that you are now talking about to this other person.
There is a similar Quiet-Secret technique where you start talking quietly to the side person as if telling them a secret. It is hard for other people not to try and listen to a secret conversation going on right beside them. This technique is easy to do, just get close to the other persons ear and turn your eyes far to the side and a little down, perhaps hunching the shoulders a little and start talking quietly, you don’t have to cover your mouth, in fact it’s better if you don’t so the others can almost hear. After a few moments turn your eyes to the opposite side and a little down while still talking. This generates a furtive look and everyone will soon notice you and try to listen in. They will only be pretending to listen to whomever is holding forth at the previous conversation but they will be in fact trying to listen to what ever it is you are quietly talking about, without their appearing to do so. That takes a lot of mental effort on their part and soon the other conversation will suffer and soon go flat. After that conversation is flagging you can sit back up and go back on topic to the general conversation. Everyone will feel they have been sidelined on the real conversation and will pay close attention to you for a while. It is best if you come back into the conversation with something important and perhaps a little off topic but controversial.
I see these techniques used everyday and lots more.