January 29, 2014 David Morin

Great Conversation Starters And Interesting Smalltalk Topics

Here are some great conversation starters and topics to get any conversation running. I recommend you to read my free full course on how to make conversation here

1. Small talk creates a friendly environment

The initial conversation should be a casual, light-hearted talk about a wide variety of topics, which can include movies, sports, music and books. By talking casually, it gives you the opportunity to learn more about others. With all these factors in mind, making small talk and asking questions is important because it can help you gain confidence while learning more about others.

2. Mastering the art of small talk

Once you understand the importance of small talk, then you’ll want to try it. Here are some ways you can master this skill:

  • Make sure you project a positive attitude when meeting others. By smiling warmly and speaking in a calm voice, you can make the other person feel at ease.
  • As part of that positive demeanor, it’s important that your body language shows you’re interested. The best way to convey this is to stand or sit upright with your shoulders squared and to maintain confident eye contact with the person you are talking to.
  • Take the initiative to introduce yourself to someone else. When doing this, ask the person you speak with an open-ended question that is suitable for the situation. A good example of this is when you are at a birthday party, you can ask that person how they know the host. The goal here is to show others confidence by speaking to them and engaging them by wanting to learn more about them.
  • Be sure to practice active listening skills. There’s nothing more discouraging than trying to talk to someone who doesn’t listen. If you are scrolling on your phone or looking around the room these are clear indicators you don’t want to listen. Instead, stand still, maintain eye contact and ask follow-up questions. A good illustration of this is if you meet an architect at a gathering, ask them which buildings around town they designed. Furthermore, be sure to use their name at least once during the conversation. For one, it can help you remember their name and two, you show you are listening to them.

3. Conversation starters

Another part of learning the art of small talk is knowing how to start conversations. At first, I didn’t have a clue on how to do this. I would get that deer in the headlights look after introducing myself and it would lead to a few moments of awkwardness. However, as I continued to work on it and build confidence, I found ways to converse with others. Here are some tips to help you:

  • Start small so you express interest in that other person, but you don’t come off as intrusive either. Say you meet someone new at school, the first thing you’ll want to do is find some common ground, which can help you learn more about them as well as keep the conversation going. Ask them what are their favorite TV shows or bands. This is a great way to learn more about them to see if you both share common interests. Conversely, you don’t want to ask any personal questions from the beginning such as “What’s your religion?” This will come off as weird and will likely will create some distance between both of you.
  • Another fun example is if you attend a party and a group of you are standing around chatting, then that awkward silence strikes. People’s eyes dart around the room, just hoping for someone to break it up. This is where you can ask some interesting questions to keep the conversation going such as: “What’s the oddest job you’ve done?” Or, “If you can have dinner with any three people, who would they be?” The goal here is to keep the conversation going with lighter topics. This is a great way to break people out of their shells and allow them to open up.

As you begin to develop a conversation with others. Think of one or two questions to ask them that can help you learn more about them. Here are some examples:

  • What is your dream job?
  • What was your worst date?
  • Do you have any surprising skills?
  • What do you look for in a mate?
  • If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?”
  • What are some of your hobbies?
  • Are you close with your parents?
  • Would you rather go a week without your computer or your phone?
  • If you could go back five years and give yourself advice, what would it be?”

The goal is to ask unique questions that help them share more about themselves. It’s important to note that you’ll want to only ask a few questions unless you are having a lengthy conversation. If you fly through a list of questions, the conversation will feel more like an interview, which can be weird for both parties.

4. Be respectful 

Another thing to keep in mind is to be respectful and keep the conversation light when meeting new people. Since you don’t know much about them, be mindful of making jokes or criticisms that may offend others. Furthermore, you don’t want to start conversations by diving into complex issues such as religion, politics or finances. While some may be more than willing to open up, not all will. Therefore, unless the other person mentions these topics, it’s a good idea to stay away from them until you both have a comfort level established.

Small talk is a great way to learn more about someone and begin to build that connection. By displaying a positive attitude, active listening skills, and good communication, you can draw others in. Additionally, by finding relevant and fun topics to talk about, others will see value in communicating with you. By following these tips, you can develop the small talk skills necessary to thrive in a variety of social environments.

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Comment (1)

  1. Shana

    Those suggestions are conversation prolongers not starters. You would never (or, more appropriately should never) walk up to someone, introduce yourself with a confident smile, and ask what do you want to change about yourself?! That’s akin to approaching a stranger and asking, “what’s wrong with you?” Your worst date emphasizes the negative and creates a negative association with a person you’ve just met. What are you looking for in a mate? Unless you are at a speed dating event and/or actively looking for a person to date this question is too forward. (Maybe it’s a cultural difference.) Are you close to your parents? This presupposes that the other person has a relationship with their parents that is pleasant enough to discuss with a stranger. Perhaps they were abandoned by their parents, maybe they don’t get along, or their parents are deceased. This question could be a trigger for some very negative and unexpected emotions. These questions aren’t altogether inappropriate, but they require a greater familiarity with your interlocutor.

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