Small talk is a common presence in social settings. Even the very best friendships, partnerships or relationships often start out with simple small talk, which then evolves into deeper conversation and connects individuals emotionally.
Small talk conversation starters play an important role here, because they get the dialogue going. Equipped with a good understanding of the art of making small talk and a few good small talk conversation starters, you can converse with anybody.
The 3 Traits of Small Talk Conversation Starters
Small talk conversation starters that work well, all share three key traits. Grasp these traits and you’ll find it easy to come up with your own small talk conversation starters and to adapt them to the context.
- They are not too intrusive. Small talk overall is not very intrusive. It’s light, social conversation. So it makes sense for the conversation starters you use to not be very intrusive either.
- They are authentic. Contrary to conventional wisdom, it’s not a good idea to use convo starters that take a conversation in a direction you’re not really interested in; even if it is just small talk.
- They are adapted. Don’t go running around with one conversation starter and use it to initiate small talk everywhere. Adapt your approach so it makes sense in the social context you’re in.
10 Conversation Starters for Small Talk
Myself and many of my coaching clients have tested numerous small talk conversation starters, and I’m going to share with you 10 of the best ones. Correlate these starters with your interests and the social context, and you can confidently rely on them.
1. “What do you think of this event/ party/ gathering?” – Simple and straightforward.
2. “Who do you know here?” – Also a good way to meet more people and make new friends.
3. “What field are you in?” – Works great at networking and business events.
4. “Have you ever been to this place before?” – Terrific starter if you like the location you’re at.
5. “That’s a nice watch. Where did you get it?” – Also works well for other accessories or clothing items.
6. “Tell me about yourself.” – A nice, broad request. It can really get the other person talking.
7. “Have you heard about (major and recent event)?” – A bit of talk about the latest news never hurts.
8. “Where are you from?” – An excellent conversation starter for events with people from multiple cities or countries.
9. “How is your day going?” – Kickoff the chat by getting the other person to share their day.
10. “What are you drinking?” – A particularly good one if you have an interest in drinks or drinking.
Use these simple and effective conversation starters when you’re making small talk, and you’ll get the conversational ball rolling.
I know that small talk may seem pointless, but it is a valuable part of social interactions, especially with new people. It’s a way to test the waters and to engage another person. Know how to make small talk and how to move beyond it, and you’ll actually enjoy it.