4 Steps Help you Survive and Enjoy It.
I go to a lot of conferences, which means I go to a lot of conference parties. They’re almost always great, with free food and music and the occasional theme party like the “Alice in Wonderland” gala I attended where they’d actually hired contortionists to play the part of the hookah-smoking caterpillar. (Could I make that up? Maybe, but I didn’t.) Going to all these events is a definite perk to being a professional speaker, and I felt compelled to start out this way because otherwise you might think I was being ungrateful.
And why might you think that? Because conference parties are also filled with a looooooooot of drunk people. They are also a perk to being a professional speaker, since “watching drunk people attempting to dance” is one of the most enjoyable activities on Earth. Plus they’re adorably persuasive. Have I ended up shirtless in a conga line at a conference party? I’m not saying I have. But I’m not saying I haven’t either.
Most of the time, drunk festivities are entertaining and harmless. But every so often you find yourself stuck in a conversation that you know will never end because the person you’re talking to is too drunk to realize that he’s repeating himself over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and I could keep going but I don’t want you to hate me. This sometimes happens at networking events when everyone’s dead sober, and I know it’s sometimes difficult to know how to escape conversations that are either unenjoyable or unproductive. You can always punch the person and walk off, but I’m starting to realize that the police really frown on that.
Fortunately for you, I’ve had to do this a million times. So if you ever get trapped in a conversation you’re desperate to get out of without leaving a bad impression, here’s what you do:
Step 1: Stop Talking
Once you’ve decided you wish to leave a conversation, you shouldn’t prolong your torture by continuing to engage in the conversation beyond the occasional “Yes” or “Wow!” If you’re worried that your conversation partner will notice your sudden silence, you can stop worrying right now. They won’t notice. They never do.
Step 2: Smile a Lot
You want to leave, but you don’t want to leave a bad impression. So keep smiling and acting like you’re having a good time. You’ll only need to do this for a couple minutes until your opportunity for escape appears, and I know you can fake enthusiasm for a couple minutes. You’ve used plenty of fake enthusiasm on your dog or your kids to trick them into coming inside or taking a bath, so bring those expert talents to play now!
Step 3: Choose Your Escape
Lots of options here: bathroom, phone call, need to talk to someone else, etc. Really the only thing you have to do is make sure you don’t use the same escape plan all the time. Otherwise people might start to notice that you’re “going to the bathroom” every 8 minutes, and that can lead to all kinds of questions you’d rather not answer.
Step 4: Don’t Worry About Leaving
This is the hardest part for most people, but it shouldn’t be. If you’ve ever had trouble escaping from a conversation, it’s likely because you are worried that you’ll somehow offend the person you’re talking to. So please believe me when I tell you that you have nothing to worry about. Drunk people will have forgotten you two minutes after you’ve gone, and everyone else you’re abandoning will wander their way into some other conversation without any more trouble than you will. Please believe me. You won’t hurt anyone’s feelings. So get out while you can!
I hope that helps. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have something else I need to do. I’ve really enjoyed writing this article, but I need to go to the bathroom. And take an urgent phone call. Oh, and I really should spend some time doing my hair. But seriously, this has been great. Let’s do it again sometime.