Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Have you ever wanted to be part of a group conversation in English but felt unsure?

Does it feel like group conversations are people talking fast and you have a hard time keeping up?

This is a common scenario and one that you want to be prepared for so that you can be a part of things.

In today’s episode you will learn three things you can listen for when you are trying to enter into a fast paced group conversation that is happening in English.

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Being A Part of the Conversation

So you see a group conversation taking place and you want to be a part of it.

You want to jump in and offer some sort of contribution, but you feel a bit intimidated and unsure.

We’re going to talk about this through common scenarios, and then you will have tips for how to deal with these issues.

These tips will be helpful so you can respond with confidence and precision in English.

So how you do you become a part of that group conversation with ease?

How do you become a productive part of a group by sharing and contributing?

We know that you have improved your listening significantly, which is so great.

The next skill is to survive in a group—to listen, understand, and contribute.

That’s where we’re at and what we are going to help you to work through, as it’s the next extension of improving your English listening and speaking.

We’re talking about a specific strategy so that you have confidence when entering a situation where there are two or more people already talking.

Decide On Your Purpose

There are certain things to consider before a conversation happens.

Before you go into this group conversation, whatever it is, you need to know what you are listening for.

You want to take these things into consideration in advance so that then you know how to become an active part of the conversation when it happens.

You ultimately have to decide on your purpose for listening in advance, and then you can determine what you can contribute.

The nerves can take over and you can get lost on the anxiety in your head.

You want to know what to listen for and why you’re listening, then you can accomplish your purpose.

This will help to clear up a lot of difficulty if you think this through ahead of time.

If you know what to listen for and why you’re listening, then you know what you’re focusing on.

You know what information you need to fulfill your purpose.

This approach works and it wires your brain to look for something in a specific situation and then you get it.

You are taking control of the situation and it pays off!

How can you take control of your English?

This is a great way to do this and a helpful angle for it, so let’s get into how this works in practice.

Three Tips To Help You Succeed In A Group Conversation

So you are going into this with the plan of getting specific details and making specific contributions.

How do we do this?

We’re going to look at three different scenarios or purposes that are common and which may help you to be an active contributor.

This will ensure that you can go in with confidence and know exactly what to look for.

1. The scenario here is that you are with a group of new friends or people you are trying to get to know, and they are discussing what to do next week. If you need to listen for specific details of something like this, then you know exactly what to focus in on. You don’t care about all the other stuff. This group may be discussing getting together for somebody’s birthday in their planning for next week. What do you need to listen for in this conversation? There may be a few things that you could focus in on such as what kind of food they like, or what type of restaurant are we going for, what type of set up are we going for, something loud or something more intimate, how many people might join so you know how to plan. If you listen for the type of food for example, then you know what you can share in that conversation.

You focus on this one specific detail, and then you can listen for it and be ready for a suggestion for a restaurant. You are going to share your opinion on your favorite restaurant, and that’s your contribution. You may listen for the types of diets people have, and then you can be ready to share your suggestion based upon that. These are the specific details you can focus on. If you are new to the group and not to a place of decision making yet, then you don’t have to have a lot of input. You don’t have to share, you just have to listen for where to go and when. Maybe that’s enough for that conversation, and that’s okay. You are going in with the purpose of what you need to know, and then you can focus on what matters. You take the pressure off of worrying about what every little detail is being shared, and then you can be a good contributor.

2. For this scenario, let’s say you are watching something on a news channel. They are talking about a specific topic and news item, and it’s all a bunch of talking heads, which is just seeing the speakers heads on screen. Guests are invited from both sides to talk about a contentious topic, and there’s usually a main anchor or facilitator. What are you listening for? Maybe you’re just listening for the jest, or the general opinions of both sides. You don’t need all the specific details on both sides.

You may not need to know all of it, rather just the main idea of what they are talking about. This eliminates a lot of pressure! Once you know what you’re listening for, it’s all about practice. You need to get that practice in a way that is made for you and is natural, and our course helps with that. But in situations like this, you have to take the pressure off of yourself. The people on these shows are usually talking so fast and you can’t keep up with all of it. Be realistic, go in knowing what you are listening for, and then move on with the information that you obtained.

3. For this scenario, you are in a work meeting and you really want to share your opinion. This is a more active strategy because you want to participate and share your opinion. You may have a new idea that you want to share. What would people listen to before they share their opinions? You want to compare the data of what other people’s opinions are. You want to hear what other people are saying before you jump in. You may struggle to interject if you have something interesting to say—and that’s such a shame! You may not be participating how you want to, and it doesn’t always come down to vocabulary and grammar.

It can be the confidence in understanding the native speakers and to share your idea. This purpose is your intention and you are going to share this opinion during the meeting! You don’t want to repeat other people’s ideas, and you’re also listening for people who may have reasons against what you feel or think. Be prepared to handle their objections ahead of time, and know in advance how to handle them. The key piece is the listening so that you know how to respond. If you’re in a meeting and people are all sharing their ideas or debating, you have to understand what people are saying. You need to focus in on this so that you have the opportunity to share your opinion in the right way.

These are a few scenarios to show you how to focus on what you really need to hear and take out of such conversations.

Though the conversations may be going quickly, if you focus in on the right things then you will be much more successful.

Go in with confidence, focus on the details that really matter to you, and then you can be an active and successful contributors in these conversations.

You can also check out our newest course at All Ears which is a free live web class where you will learn listening strategies for fast group conversations that happen everywhere in the world in English.


It may be intimidating at first when it comes to being a part of group conversations.

People may be talking fast and you may struggle to figure out where you fit in—so this is where you practice your listening skills.

Go in prepared with what you need to focus on, and what you need to take away from the conversation.

This can help you to be more confident, be an active contributor, and come away with the details that you need.

It’s all about your approach and your focus, and soon enough group conversations will become second nature to you.

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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