Need a Small Talk Conversation Starter? Read On…
If you are headed out to a function right now and just need some practical conversation starters to engage in small talk with people you may not know well, then read on for ten small talk conversation openers you can put to use today.
- Classic conversation openers include “Where are you from?” or “What do you do for a living?” Be prepared to share your own answers to those questions. You can also ask about sports or current local events. One way to sweeten the pot is to offer to grab or buy a drink for the person.
- There are two ways to get someone to talk. You could ask a question that requires a yes or no such as: “Did you catch the season finale of The Amazing Race last night?” Or, perhaps ask a more open-ended question such as “Do you have any brothers and sisters?” If they are an only child, ask how that was. In either situation, you would pursue follow-up questions to advance the conversation.
- Small talk generally starts with conversation about relaxing, non-controversial topics such as hobbies, the weather, work, family or other interests.
- Be prepared with something interesting to offer to the conversation. How do you do this? Stay on top of current events and popular culture. Then, you can ask leading questions like “What do you think of [event A]?” “Have you heard about what happened to [pop culture phenomena B]?” “What is your take on what happened with [famous person C]?”
- Share a story about your day. Did you lose your keys for the umpteenth time or discover some money on the ground? Maybe at work you tried a new eatery for lunch.
- Vacations are great conversation topics. Who doesn’t want to go on one? There are two ways to go about this. If you are thinking about going on vacation, you might ask for advice or recommendations by asking what is the best vacation the person ever took. On the other hand, you might bring up the topic and then transition into talking about the best vacation you ever took. (But don’t talk about how much you spent.) Go into what you would recommend or not about it. Was it a cruise? Flight and hotel? Long road trip? You can pull some places that you would love to go to someday from your bucket list (things you want to do before you die (that is another great conversation topic on its own).
- Look for something in common. For example, get the other person to talk by making a statement or asking a question on something about the event itself or location. What’s the neighborhood like? Does the person live in the same part of town? For instance at a party you could ask a guest how he or she knows the host.
- Let people know about major events in your life, such as a recent move, buying a home, getting engaged or married, getting accepted to college, getting promoted, having or expecting a baby. Usually, the reaction will be one of congratulations and empathy and will open up the conversation as the person shares their own experiences with the same topic. If they don’t volunteer their experience, ask!
- Movies are typically a great conversation topic. You might talk about really hot current movies (whatever is leading at the box office), asking the other person if they are planning to see any of the movies currently out or if they have already gone. With a few people you could get a good conversation going by talking about best and worst movies, or most expensive movies. Some movie review sites have great lists like this you can review (such as the greatest movies by a particular actor or actress or greatest movies in a particular genre or most emotional scenes in movies, and so forth). The possibilities with this topic are many.
- Although many will say avoid sensitive topics like politics and religion in small talk or conversation with new acquaintances, we say take them on! Your world view can grow a lot by asking and confronting the biggest issues of the day. From politics to the economy, conflicts to news of the day, you can usually get an intense conversation going. This one is great for people who don’t’ like the mundane side of small talk.
Also check out the articles A Simple Solution for Everyone Who Hates Small Talk and Nine Successful Small Talk Tips for Every Situation.