We’re acutely aware that orders to self-quarantine, socially distance, and shelter-in-place have significantly impacted our ability to communicate with others, from close friends to friendly strangers.
While this is difficult for everyone, we’re especially mindful of this impact if you were struggling with communication, and were actively working on improving your communication skills. Conversation practice with unfamiliar people is crucial for so many, but this may be difficult (or impossible) to do in isolation conditions. Opportunities to practice with clerks, coworkers, and classmates have disappeared overnight.
To support the needs of our community, we are starting a FREE online program while we are all stuck inside: Social Distancing, Together!
No-commitment conversation practice with a friendly, supportive stranger. speech IRL will facilitate setting up partners and/or small groups for the purposes of conversation practice. Conversation topics can be about anything: movies, travel, hobbies, pets. Conversations are 30-45 minutes long. We’ll do a brief compatibility screen to ensure there’s some interest overlap, then set you up for a conversation!
The purpose of this program is to practice conversation skills: turn-taking, working through lulls in conversation, coming up with new topics, sharing information, asking questions.
Because the idea is to practice conversation with people you don’t know very well, we’ll limit repeat partners to 3 conversations or less. If you hit it off, y’all can keep talking on your own!
This is for anyone who wants to practice conversation. You do not need to be a current or former speech IRL client. You do not need to live in Chicago, Illinois, or even the USA! (We will be screening for time zone compatibility.)
We’ve also had interest from people who are confident in their conversation skills and are experiencing “extrovert struggles” during this COVID period, and are eager for social interaction. If you would like to use your strong conversation skills to support others, we welcome your participation! You’ll be able to self-identify if you’re looking to practice conversation, or looking to support the practice others, and we’ll match pairs and groups accordingly.
For liability reasons, this program is only open to individuals 18 years of age or older.
Complete our Conversationalist Profile form. This gives us an idea of what you’re looking for and who would be a good match for you.
When we have a suitable match, we’ll e-mail you and your partner/group. We’ll suggest an initial time based on your responses. If the suggested time doesn’t work, you can work out an alternate with your assigned partner(s).
Note: this requires sharing e-mail addresses. If you are not comfortable sharing your e-mail address with others, we do not recommend participating in this program.
We will designate a host in the initial e-mail. The host should invite their partner(s) to a videoconference call at the agreed time.
We recommend using Zoom, which you can access for free here, and is compatible with all platforms and operating systems.
Well, that is sort of the point! Talking to strangers can be a bit awkward at first...that’s why this is all about practice.
When you receive your matching e-mail, we’ll include some basic guidelines and prompts to start the conversation and keep it moving. Conversation is like a game, it takes a little bit of attention and effort from each person to keep going.
And if it’s really not working, it’s OK to excuse yourself and end the call.
Send us an e-mail and we'll answer any questions!
Whether you're a professional, a parent, a partner, or a business leader looking to address organizational-level interaction issues, we use soulful science to move your forward.