Do you remember all the cool and fun people you hung out with or encountered at one point or another? What was one noticeable trait they shared?
Give up? They had a strong wit about them and can go back and forth on any conversational topic, what we called “bantering.”
Now, this is by no means something we all can do naturally, while for others it seems like they can pull out endless one-liners at the drop of a hat.
Regardless of unwitty you may think you are, you can progress in this wit arena to strengthen your communication skills for nearly any situation by practicing bantering.
Here’s how you can initiate a banter session with somebody:
Step 1: Initiate with Willing Participants
The first thing to do is simple, ask a question that’s relevant to your situation or location.
Every single point of conversation has to start with an opening line. You don’t just go into a room and start spouting off one-liners. Instead, take it easy with your approach, and ask questions. Simple things like, “Did you catch the ball game?” “Where did you get that drink?” “What’s up?” Something so simple can open up the doors to moving forward.
Here’s the thing, bantering is a two-way street, and if the other person doesn’t want to participate or even know how, don’t force it upon them to respond. Look for other participants. The point here is to just initiate an interaction with someone who is willing to engage.
Step 2: Pay Attention to the Comical Nature of What Is Being Said
In order to keep a banter exchange going, you need to be able to play off what other people are saying. Of course, it’s hard to define this without listening. When someone is talking, listen for cues that are comedic in nature, e.g., “Ha! Take a load of that guy,” followed by an insult.
There are always going to be cues in conversation, and you just need to pick up on them as launching points by asking yourself “What is funny about what has been said?” If there is no source of conversational materials to work with because the other person is a weak team player, draw inspiration from your immediate surrounding and ask questions until you’re at a point where you can come up with a pun, or make a quick reference to a movie, joke, or something you like.
Banter is easier once you start paying attention to the comical side of everything being said.
Step 3: Learn Funny Wordplay To Use
One of the best ways to learn how to be witty is to familiarize yourself with proverbial sayings, famous-movie lines, and pop-culture slangs that reference different things.
Read books and articles, watch movies and shows with witty characters, and even play word puzzles. Your goal is to build up your repartees.
Wordplay can bring about new wit in real life. Spoonerisms, malapropism, and puns all work in this arena. Study these and use phrases with them in your conversation; they will pay off alongside the other tips mentioned above.
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What if the person is on a topic you have no idea about? This doesn’t address that.
Improv is the way to go mate! 😉
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