The First Rule of Successful Small Talk
- First, be prepared. Before you head out to a function, come up with a few questions to ask others and several things to talk about. If you’re meeting someone for the first time, such as the party host, open things up by paying them compliments. (Flattery works!). You could say something nice about the décor or music. If you actually know your host, put some thought into the things they tend to like or talk about and start off with those. These kinds of questions are great ice breakers, and all it takes is some planning beforehand so you don’t freeze up on the spot.
- Another good technique is to actually wear something interesting to make your attire a conversation starter. It could be a piece of jewelry, a hat, a striking scarf, a fancy bag, just something that is interesting or has a funny story attached to it. This works both ways, it gives someone else something to notice and start a conversation about, as well as giving you something that you’re familiar with to refer to, meaning you don’t have to think about what to say.
- Expose yourself to the humor around you in television shows, the paper, magazines, and live shows. Most news sites have weird news of the day features. What’s great is you are focusing on what is funny to you. Share with others. The person may or may not find it as funny, but that’s the basis for conversation! Ask them what they find funny.
- Focus on what your conversation partner is saying and respond. Ask follow up questions, whether they mention they had a great day (ask what was great about it) or if they are tired (what happened to make them so tired). Being curious will help you through a lot of conversations.
- I really like the tip about letting your mistakes shine through. Often introverts think a conversation has to go perfectly in order to make an impression. But being imperfect takes the pressure off and makes the other person feel more comfortable.
- Before entering into a conversation that’s already under way, observe and listen.
- Role play. Pretend as if you are the host, even if you are not. Introduce yourself to people and introduce them to others. For example, when someone walks through the door and you notice they are quiet, just introduce yourself and introduce them to other people you’ve met or know. Let people know where to find food and drinks.
- Simple works best. Be the first to greet. Say ‘hello’ and accompany it with a sincere smile. As social beings, people are conditioned to respond positively to civil overtures and most likely you will find the person before you doing the same. Introduce yourself clearly so that people know who they are talking to. At the same time, make an effort to remember names and use them frequently in your conversation.
- People visit bars and go to parties to have a good time. Keep the conversation friendly and fun by talking about things most people will talk about like movies, television shows, music, or family. Think about what topics make you relax and talk about those.
Also check out the articles A Simple Solution for Everyone Who Hates Small Talk and Ten Small Talk Conversation Starters.