Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Have you ever heard somebody jump in during a conversation in English?

Have you often wondered when it’s the right time to offer what you have to say during a group conversation?

This is something that happens often, and so you want to know how to make this work.

When you are in conversation, particularly in a group setting, you want to know how to jump in when you have something to say.

Today we are going to learn how to take the reigns of a conversation, and to get in what you have to say especially when it’s with a whole group.

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An Important Aspect of Conversation

When a new topic is started in a conversation, like perhaps the first topic, do people always get into it immediately?

Or is there often some back and forth at first?

People don’t often get into things right from the start–if you think about it there’s a little warmup first.

Then in a group conversation, one person really dives in and that’s how things get going.

So this is about speaking AND listening, because realistically both are important.

How can you tell when it’s time to interject in a conversation?

How can you listen for when you jump in?

This might make you think of jump roping, such as when two people are holding the rope and you have to find when to jump in.

It can be a bit dicey until the person actually gets  in there.

It’s important to really stay in tune, and to know when it is good to jump.

Today, you are going to hear the beginning of a fast group conversation about first memories.

In this conversation there are multiple speakers, and that is key for this skill.

When you listen, here is your strategy and what you should think about.

  1. What happens before someone dives in?
  2. Who dives in first?
  3. What do they say to dive in?

A Working Example

As we have done in the past, we are going to go through a clip played on Conversations and Coffee.

This will help to highlight how this works, so that you can start to get an appreciation and understanding of this.

This is how the clip played out so you have a working example, and then we will break it apart so that you understand it well.

Michelle: “Hello, guys, how are you?”

Aubrey: “Great.”

Jessica: “Fantastic.”

Lindsay: “Hello, doing good.”

Jessica: “How are you?”

Aubrey: “How are you?”

Michelle: “I’m good, I’m good.  You know what, I have a terrible memory and we’re going to be talking a little bit about remembering things from our childhood today.  Do you guys remember a lot about your childhood?”

Jessica: “Nope.”

Aubrey: “I do not.”

Lindsay: “Some.  I don’t know, it’s hard to know what everyone else remembers, so, I’m not sure how it compares.”

Jessica: “That’s true.”

Aubrey: “Sometimes I feel like I remember something, but then I’m like, am I just remembering a photo I’ve seen or is that actually a memory.”

Michelle: “Ohh yeah (yes).”

Lindsay: “Yeah (yes), exactly.”

Michelle: “Right, right, right, do you remember the actual thing or are you just kind of remembering when your mom told you that it happened, and you saw it on video.”

Aubrey: “Exactly.” 

Lindsay: “Exactly.” 

Jessica: “There yeah there are some people, like my mom, who remember absolutely everything.”

Michelle: “Ohh yeah (yes).”

Jessica: “Seriously.”

Michelle: “I know.”

Jessica: “My mom is like, I don’t know, 60 whatever, I never remember how old she is.  She’s, like, stuck at age 45 in my brain for some reason, even though I’m already 41, but my mom will be like, “When I was two, you know, and I was with my sister.” or whatever, and it’s no lie, like, she really remembers this stuff.”

Aubrey: “She remembers.  Interesting.”

Michelle: “That’s kind of, that’s pretty cool, yeah (yes), I know.  I have family members like that as well, but I have a terrible memory.  I’ve had situations where friends are telling me about things I used to do and I’m like, “Ohh my gosh, like, you remember more about me than I remember about myself.”

Now you see this working example, so we can break it apart.

Breaking It Down

So you saw the example and now you want to remember it and review it as necessary.

Now let’s go over the answers so that you can really understand how this works.

  1. What happens before? 

The question is posted “Do you guys remember a lot about your childhood?”

People give short answers and talk over one another–and this is actually very normal!

This could be a simple yes or no, but then answers are also a tiny bit longer without much elaboration .

Why is this done?

Typically this can be done to give everyone a first chance to speak to get a feel for everyone’s general opinion.

It may be a little odd if one person goes into a long speech right away.

We also relate to each other in this way sometimes, and you can start to see that happen.

Take a look at this part of the conversation so you can see how it works and how this can be used to relate to each other.

Lindsay: Some.  I don’t know, it’s hard to know what everyone else remembers, so, I’m not sure how it compares.

Jessica: That’s true.

Aubrey: Sometimes I feel like I remember something, but then I’m like, am I just remembering a photo I’ve seen or is that actually a memory.

Michelle: Ohh yeah (yes).

Lindsay: Yeah (yes), exactly.

Michelle: Right, right, right, do you remember the actual thing or are you just kind of remembering when your mom told you that it happened, and you saw it on video.

Aubrey: Exactly. 

Lindsay: Exactly. 

  1. Who dives in first? In this instance it looks as if Jessica dives in first. Would you agree?
  2. What does she say to dive in? Well, first she changes things up, which is to say that she “primes” the rest of the group. She goes deeper into the subject, and doesn’t just scratch the surface. She gets deeper and this matters greatly here. She says: “There yeah there are some people, like my mom, who remember absolutely everything.”

Then there is some feedback from the group, and then she goes into more information about how her mom remembers things.

Then finally Michelle comes in and is able to relate what Jessica says to family members of hers, and she continues to go more into her opinion on things.

Why Does This Matter and How Do You Get It To Work?

What is the importance of this, and how can this help you as a listener in group conversations?

Think about this and then you can really grasp it and understand why it’s so very important in the first place.

  • You need to know when it’s a good time to jump in. You don’t want to sit on the sidelines because then you’re not an active participant. However you do want to be aware of when it is a good time and when the conversation lends itself to this.
  • It’s important to understand the general order: Don’t jump in too soon or too late! The timing matters greatly, so you want to pay close attention and know when it is your time. You will feel when that perfect pause or break comes when you can jump in like this.
  • Listening to others will allow you to know when to jump in. It doesn’t matter whether it is because you are the one taking the reins or because you hear something someone else says that means it is a perfect time for you to speak. When you listen closely then that opportunity often presents itself perfectly, and that’s when you jump in and make it happen.

So when you are listening and practicing, try to imagine where you would jump in and why!

In real conversations, listen for chances to go deeper, as they will often present themselves readily.

It may be when someone goes a tad deeper into the topic, maybe you notice people are speaking for longer lengths of time.

These are great clues that it may be time to chime in, and if you listen for them and notice them then you can make them work.

Have you ever had a hard time knowing when to chime in during a group conversation?

These tips are so important in this situation, for all of you listeners can benefit from knowing how to make this aspect of conversation work for yourself.

As far as speaking goes, you can also be the one to take things deeper!

Why not be the first?

Wait for everyone to say at least something– and if everyone is speaking in more introductory ways, start it out more!


Fast group conversations can be tough when a new topic is introduced.

It’s important to know how to joint he conversation more deeply after a period of time.

We went over some strategies as far as both listening and speaking go, and these can really work well for you.

Practice listening to group conversation and take note of how people jump in in a deeper way after the introduction.

Try this out for yourself and see how you get used to it in no time with some practice.

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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