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Here’s a list of 20 general topics with interesting things to talk about. Use these for inspiration for an interesting discussion with both your friends and new people you want to get to know.
Discovering each other’s passions and hobbies is a great conversation topic. You learn more about the other person, and you will find areas of commonality. We, humans, love talking about things we are passionate about.
You don’t necessarily have to talk about current passions or hobbies either – reminiscing about passions from the past works too and paints a picture of the person you are.
- What do you like doing when you don’t work?
- Did you have any hobbies when you were a kid?
- Is [job] your passion or what do you like doing the most?
2. Ask what city they are from to open up interesting conversation topics
I LOVE asking people what city or area of town they are originally from. It’s a great question to ask because it can lead the conversation to so many different places.
Some great follow up questions are:
- What’s the biggest difference between that place and here?
- What brought about the move?
- What do you like most about [place]?
Learning about another person’s home can become an extremely personal experience. It’s a great way to get to know someone.
Read more here: Interesting small talk topics and conversation starters.
3. Role models
Who a person finds interesting or admirable says a lot about them. It can tell you what drives them, what values they have and what they would like to pursue. I like to ask people what role models they have if we are on the topic of celebrities, thought leaders, influencers or anyone who’s big in any industry.
Ditch the age-old question “If you could have dinner with any 5 people dead or alive” if you just met someone (But works great for people you already know).
An example could be “I think Elon Musk is so inspiring. Do you have someone that inspires you?”
4. Popular events
Ask people about what music, culture, or arts festivals they like. Ask if they’ve seen The Oscars, upcoming shows, workshops, or lectures that they have enjoyed recently.
Talking about popular events can also create a reason to meet up again if you decide to go to an event together.
5. Local news
Anything interesting that might be happening on a local level is fair game here, be it the entire city, or as local as, say, your university or your local neighborhood. Talking about happenings that are close by can often be more exciting compared to world news because it feels more immediate and impactful.
I usually ask “Did you hear about [insert event]?” And then I let the conversation linger about that event or other related events.
Vacations are GREAT to talk about because we can both ask where people have been and where they WANT to go.
Here’s the trick I use to get into the topic in a natural way.
“So how are things at work, will you be having any vacation soon?”
You can use that question basically at any time during small talk. They’ll respond either “No, I won’t have a vacation in a while” or “Yeah, I’m going to this and that place soon”.
You can now talk about vacations:
- “Where are you going?”
- “What do you like the most about that place?”
- “Have you been there before?”
And in between those questions, you can share your own vacation experiences.
7. Interesting things to talk about in your surroundings
Talking about your immediate surroundings can be done both when you’re talking to someone you’re acquainted with, as well as with a perfect stranger. We are, after all, in the same space.
Look around you. Can you see anything that would be interesting to talk about?
If I look around the room I sit in right now, I come up with several topics:
- “I like those plants over there. Are you interested in plants?”
- “That’s a lot of management books. Do you like to read?”
- “Nice to have a wall-mounted AC unit instead of a window unit. What’s that like at your place?”
8. Food preferences
You don’t have to be a connoisseur to discuss your preferences or the strangest/best things you’ve eaten. Everyone eats. Food is one of those things that has the power to connect even seemingly very different people.
Personally, I talk about food preferences whenever food is on the topic or when you’re at dinner so it’s natural to talk about.
- “That Salmon looks nice! Do you like fish?”
- “Have you ever tried fermented cabbage? It has a very distinct taste but it’s supposed to be healthy”
- “Do you like pizza or burgers the most?
9. Clothing and fashion
While not everyone has a clothing-wearing philosophy or a dress code with a story behind it, wearing clothes is a bit like eating. It’s (mostly) universal. It can also be very interesting to talk about.
You could talk about anything from trying to balance comfort and appearance to how your mood might affect what you’re wearing, or exchange epic tales of your second-hand store hunts.
Another thing to do is to find something you truly appreciate in the other person’s style and offer a genuine compliment. Do this with people you’ve already gotten to know a little as it can come off as too intense with someone you just met.
- “I like your shoes, where did you buy them?” (And then you can talk about shoes you like, where you like to shop, and also ask them the same question.)
- “I like your street outfit, are you into fashion?
- “Have you always have the same style or do you change over time?”
10. Areas of mastery
Get to know what people are good at and talk about that. If you, say, talk about abilities or how someone’s good at something, it’ll feel natural to ask something like:
“Do you have something you’re really good at that people don’t know about?”
You can then delve into their skills and share what you’re good at. This doesn’t have to be a professional discussion, although it can be. It can even be something completely impractical like being able to speak backward or walk on your hands, as long as it makes for an interesting conversation.
You can also talk about what someone WANTS to be good at. What is this person interested in learning? What are YOU interested in learning?
11. Childhood memories
This can go in many different directions – the first memory, the happiest days, unexpected gifts or life lessons learned. Bringing up childhood memories can be a great way to bond with another person, and also laugh. A lot.
However, be aware that not everyone is willing to talk about their childhood – especially if it was somewhat rough. If the person seems evasive or gives shorter responses than usual, it’s a sign to move on to a different topic.
Some ways you can dip your toes into this topic without being super invasive are:
- “What was life like growing up?”
- “What did you do for fun as a child?”
- “Did you have any pets growing up?’
Talking about things you have in common rather than differences is a good way to bond. Once you find something you have in common, those topics can be revisited throughout the conversation.
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Feel out the conversation and follow your gut instincts. If it sounds like their opinions align with your beliefs, don’t be afraid to expand on that and use that as a common ground to build your conversation (and friendship) on.
Talking about entertainment can be as simple as sharing your favorite movie, bands, or even a more complex discussion about the changes/trends in the entertainment industry.
We live in what experts are calling, “The third golden age of Television.” This means that we are surrounded by content, and pretty much every person has a Netflix account or has their ex-lover’s Netflix login. Use this and go with it!
If you have a favorite TV-show, share it. Chances are you have more than one as there are so many readily available nowadays. It’s extremely likely the person you are talking to as seen or heard of some of your favorite T.V. shows, and vice versa.
- “What’s your favorite show to Netflix and chill to?”
- “What shows are you watching lately?”
- “Listening to any good podcasts?”
People often don’t think about their habits, rituals, and routines at all because those are so ingrained into our personalities. But when you discover those little things that you happen to do similarly, it can bring you together, because they make you feel alike in some way.
For example, are you into fitness? Do you read every night before going to bed?
Do you talk to your plants? Do you whisper Wed-nes-day to help you spell it?
Don’t be afraid to share a little bit about yourself every once in a while. I make sure to share a little bit about my habits because it shows who I am and helps find interesting commonalities.
It doesn’t have to be anything weird or amazing. For example…
- I take a morning walk in my nearby park every morning to see some nature and say hi to the squirrels
- I try to eat a big bowl of veggies each day. (A friend named it a “Rainbowl” because of all the different colors.)
- I have to watch something on Youtube as soon as my morning alarm goes off to not fall asleep again.
Did you notice how I suddenly become a bit more interesting; a real person instead of an anonymous writer on the internet? Habits are interesting.
Read more: How to be a more interesting person to talk to.
This can be about plans for the weekend, or even workplace adjustments and personal development. This can also apply to future dreams.
Dig deeper by asking questions like:
- “What do you want out of life?”
- “Do you have a 5-year plan?”
- You can also keep it casual and ask these questions:
- “What’s your favorite thing to do on the weekend?”
- “Do you have anything coming up you’re excited about?
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There are varying degrees of our fears, so it’s best to touch on something light that can be used as a joke later on. Like a fear of an overactive landlord, or spending too much time with friends and family during the holidays. Once the conversation unfolds, you can gauge how much you want to share, and how much the other person wants to give.
To start out, ask this question: “What is something that makes you nervous you’d like to overcome?”
For most people, going to school is a formative experience, colored brightly by character-building moments. In America particularly there is also the topic of sports at the schools we went to. College football is huge. In New York, there are entire bars dedicated to random college teams from various states.
Our school days often remind us of simple times, and we usually have a lot of stories to tell.
Try out these questions:
- “What did you go to detention for?”
- “What class in school was your favorite subject?”
- “Who was your best friend at school?”
This point can be taken literally. You can ask the person how they feel about the concept of technology. Or you can talk about your phones, laptop, watch, car or any other piece of technology and how they compare or differ.
From there, you can discuss the future. How do you think life will change as technology develops?
19. Online buzz
This includes mobile apps, websites, Youtube channels, social media personalities, and any other such things. You don’t have to simply swap favorites – you can also discuss things you’re often exposed to online but “just don’t get”. Like the cinnamon challenge- what was up with that?
The new golden rule: There is always something interesting happening on the Internet. So if there’s a lull in the conversation, why not whip out your smartphone and head over to the trending section on Youtube? Twitter is also a great source for content.
Once you’ve ingested some content together you can build that into your conversation.
It’s been said that people who sweat together stick together, so we can assume this applies to talking about the art of sweating as well. Sports can be anything from which gym you visit to your favorite team.
Try out these questions:
- “What type of live sporting event is your favorite one?”
- “If you had to pick one sport to never watch again, which would it be and why?”
- “Who’s your favorite player in [team]?”
Once you’ve discussed sports and found a shared interest, don’t hesitate to suggest meeting up for watching your team together, or playing your sport together. This is an activity that bonds people together, and it’s fun too!