How to Close a Conversation

This piece is a follow up to the CYP Purposeful Networking event held on February 12.

Why not start with the end in mind?  When you have a sense of your goal in speaking with someone and about how much time you can spend, it helps give you a structure and cadence for your interaction.


It’s important to practice and become comfortable with closing a conversation because:

  • It’s your opportunity to make a lasting positive impression.
  • You probably want to visit with more people. You don’t want to feel stuck talking with just one person during mingle time because you aren’t comfortable bringing a conversation to a close and moving on.
Image courtesy of DreamLight Images


Do these things:

As in all human interactions, there is no one script that will always work. It’s somewhat like improv theater where what you say and do depends on the other person’s last response. However, we suggest you consider and put into practice these steps in concluding a one-on-one conversation at a networking event:

  • Make a comment that signals your intention to wrap things up. For example, “It’s been great talking with you, Jean Pierre.”
  • If you haven’t already done so, now is a good time to request and collect information for follow up. For example, “May I get your contact information? And may I leave you with one of my cards?” Have your business cards available. Sure, you can share information directly with mobile phones or exchange contact information on notebooks; however, compared to good old business cards, that often takes longer. Besides, it just isn’t as much of a personal connection as a physical card. Thank them for providing their information.
  • Make a comment that is encouraging of the other person’s endeavors/goals/activities or if that’s not appropriate or relevant, comment on another tidbit from the conversation. This demonstrates your engagement with them and that you were listening. For example, “Best of luck with the new product launch” or “I’ll look for your article in next month’s newsletter” or “I’ll have to try the City Deli’s pastrami sandwich the next time I’m in New York.”
  • You are not obligated to explain why you are parting company; however, IF there’s a truthful and graceful reason, feel free to use it. For example, “I’m going to grab a cup of coffee before the presentation begins” or “I’m going to head in now and see if I can get a front row seat.”
  • Shake hands, leaning in slightly while smiling and keeping good eye contact (or looking at bridge of the person’s nose). Make a positive closing remark, such as, “Great meeting you,” or “Please give my regards to Phoebe for me next time you see her,” after which you shift your weight back to signal your departure.
  • Walk purposefully away. If you’re in a mingle situation and you’re not sure exactly who you want to approach next, at least have your first several steps be in a purposeful direction. You don’t want the person you were just speaking with to see you moving slowly and aimlessly away. That will make him/her feel as if you didn’t really have anything else to do, but just didn’t want to talk to him/her anymore.

Closing conversation in a group:

If you’re leaving a group, the steps will be different. You’ll have to read the situation and see what’s appropriate given the nature of the group interaction and the size of the group. If there are several people, with more than one conversation taking and it’s fairly casual, wait for a natural pause in one of the conversations and focus your comments to those individuals and say something as simple as, “Great meeting all of you. I’m going to grab a cup of coffee. See you in there.” If others pause in their conversations to acknowledge you, be sure to look at them too and smile as you take your leave.

Video courtesy of DreamLight Images
Image courtesy of DreamLight Images

Pete Arnstein | Dynamic Leadership Development
Pam Winholtz | Dare2Dream Bigger

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