Many of us struggle when approaching women. Talking to an attractive stranger is never easy.

But even when we do work up the courage to talk to a woman, that’s still only the first step. If you’re hoping to get a phone number or a date, you’re going to have to say something more substantial than, “Hello.” You’re going to have to initiate and maintain a conversation. That’s where our conversation tips from charismatic men come in.

By observing the behavior and mannerisms of famously charismatic men, we’ve identified a number of things you can do to get past “Nice to meet you” and get into an honest-to-goodness conversation.

Take a look at these conversation tips from charismatic men.

Opening with a compliment may seem like a no-brainer. It’s probably something you do all the time. But here’s the thing: Every guy uses compliments. The key to standing out from the crowd is giving unique and sincere compliments. Also remember that you want to be charming, not slimy -- Will Smith is able to walk this line expertly.

Avoid giving obvious compliments like “nice eyes.” Forget about telling a woman she has “a really pretty smile,” as a woman hears that 12 times a day. Instead, try complimenting her on something she said. “That’s a really smart point” or “You’re really funny” are far more effective compliments.

Know your quotes and anecdotes
It never hurts to be prepared. It’s especially useful when you’re trying to keep the attention of a beautiful woman. Let a guy like Christopher Hitchens be your guide. One of the world’s foremost public intellectuals, Hitchens knows how to spin a yarn.

The rest of us can follow suit by having a few excellent stories ready to go at a moment's notice. Think about the stories you tell that always get a laugh. Memorize them and work on your delivery.


More From AskMen:
5 First-Conversation Mistakes 

Top 10: Conversation Tips 

Make a Good Impression on Your First Day 

4 Steps: Start a Conversation 

Top 10: First Date Conversations 


Nod when people are talking
It’s an old politician’s trick, but it works just as well for us plebeians. Nod when someone is talking to you. It creates an affinity between you and the speaker, and encourages her to keep talking.

Have you ever seen Bill Clinton work a room? There may not be a more charismatic politician alive. The man is a master at creating connections with people, and he does it with body language: a firm handshake, a winning smile and a nod of the head.

Avoid hot buttons
Particularly when you first meet someone, stay away from hot-button issues. That advice your mother gave you about avoiding controversial subjects like religion or politics is still good. Don’t talk about past relationships either. Be the Ryan Reynolds of conversation. Though Reynolds was recently named the "sexiest men alive," there’s very little that's edgy about him. He’s likable and charismatic, but decidedly nonconfrontational.

Not having anything to talk about is probably the thing that worries guys most. But keeping the conversation going isn’t as hard as you might think. It helps if you’ve got diverse interests like James Franco does. Franco is an actor, of course, but he’s also a Yale Ph.D. student and a working artist. He’s got a lot going on, and if you think about it, you probably do too.

Do you play sports? What’s your family like? Have you traveled? Are you a city guy or a country boy? Whatever you talk about is pretty much fine; you just want to keep the conversation lively by switching topics every now and then. Don’t spend the whole time droning on and on about your job, and don’t spend the entire conversation telling a woman how hot she looks.

Make it clear you’re interested
When you’re talking to a woman, it’s especially important that you don’t waste too much time before showing her you're interested. Think Jude Law. There’s a man who doesn’t waste any time getting to the point.

While you don’t want to employ cheesy lines or start putting your hands all over a woman, you do want to make it clear fairly quickly that you’re not there to chitchat; you’re there because you’re interested. It's another one of our conversation tips from charismatic men.

Give and take
Work to develop a healthy give and take. Be polite, but don’t be afraid to tease her a bit. Ashton Kutcher is a good example. He’s funny and brash without being offensive. It’s important to not monopolize the conversation too. You can’t just walk up to a person and start talking all about yourself. Take a breath. Ask some questions. Much like good comedy, conversation depends on timing. You have to find the right rhythm.