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Entertaining someone with conversation is often misinterpreted as a requirement to tell jokes. We've all been in situations involving grinning and bearing it as someone makes relentless jokes with barely a pause for responses. Joke telling actually prevents a conversation developing and if you waste your precious three to five minutes when someone is forming their opinion of you, you lose an opportunity to discover things you have in common. Not everyone's a natural comedian and even professionals spend hours practising. Lines that sound natural, spontaneous, and hilarious when delivered by a professional comic, are actually thoroughly crafted. Unless you can put this level of dedication into your joke telling, avoid telling jokes when you first meet someone.

The other person doesn't have to be laughing out loud to be entertained. Just aim to initiate interesting conversation on themes that the other person can contribute to (see Chapter 9 for more ideas).

Telling stories about your own experiences that have funny or entertaining endings and which relate to the topics of conversation you're having, instantly builds rapport. The odd joke is fine once you're well into the swing of a conversation, but keep them relevant to the subject and avoid vulgarity and profanities.

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