As a “professional small talker” I have learned from friends and family members that making small talk and starting conversation isn’t always easy. And I have been asked quite a few times for advice on conversation starters and how to make small talk a little less painful! So I want to share these tips with you all, including 102 conversation starters for every situation.
But first lets talk about tips for making small talk less painful.
5 tips for small talk:
- Ask lots of questions. Most people like to talk about themselves so get them talking by asking questions that require in depth answers!
- Don’t freak out over silence. If there’s a weird gap in talking or some awkward silence that’s okay and normal! Just pick a new topic and don’t sweat the silence.
- Find a common ground. Even if it’s something as basic as both of you liking a TV show like Friends! Finding a common ground builds an automatic friendship and something easy for you to talk about.
- Stay off your phone. I know a lot of people who don’t love small talk who immediately react by scrolling on their phone or looking at it a bunch while talking. I totally get that it’s a comfort blanket but it makes you look disinterested and kind of rude!
- Give some extra pieces of info in your answers. If someone asks “what did you major in” I don’t just answer “hospitality management” because a lot of times that ends the conversation and makes them have to come up with another question! Instead I’ll answer something like “hospitality management and I worked full time in hotels around campus. Man, I have so many stories from those crazy night shifts!”. This leads to them having easy prompts to work off of and can lead to some funny and entertaining stories to keep the mood light!
Now let’s get onto the actual conversation starters!
We are going to break down the conversation starts by themes/scenarios to make it a little easier to help pick which conversation starter to use.
Small talk conversation starters can really help you feel more comfortable in less than fun situations by being prepared for the small talk!
Conversation starters are meant to make the conversations easier and flow better but don’t put all the pressure on yourself. Remember- conversations take at least 2 people putting in effort.
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Conversation starters for the office:
- What was your first job ever?
- How did you end up in this industry?
- What are your plans for this weekend?
- If you never had to work another day in your life what would you do?
- What would you pick for the next themed office party?
- I learned X cool thing about our industry, what are your thoughts on it?
- Where is your favorite place to go for your lunch break?
- What’s your favorite thing to do outside of work?
- What’s the first thing you do after work?
Fun conversation starters for parties:
- What’s your favorite random fact (and have one ready for you to say too)?
- Do you like to listen to Podcasts? Which are your favorite?
- What’s the worst advice you have ever been given?
- What is your favorite “Weird” food?
- You can bring 3 things if you’re stranded on a desert, what would you bring?
- If you were a drink what drink would it be?
- If you ever became famous what would it be for?
- What is the last concert you have been to?
Conversation starters for family events:
- What’s your favorite memory at a family event?
- If the whole family went on a giant trip where should we go?
- What is your favorite family tradition?
- If you could switch lives with one family member for a day who would it be?
- What would you love to ask our ancestors from 100 years ago?
- What is your least favorite chore?
- Describe any decisions you made when you were young that you would re-do now?
- What is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?
- What has been the most significant year of your life?
Conversation starters for when you need to appear put together:
- What book could you read over and over?
- What is your favorite conference you have attended?
- Ask them to recommend their favorite documentary?
- Who is the most influential person in your life?
- What is a skill you want to improve on?
- Do you speak any other languages?
Conversation starters for a first date:
- What’s the biggest risk you have ever taken?
- If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?
- What is your hidden talent?
- What does a perfect Saturday morning look like to you?
- When in your life were you the happiest?
- What movie can you watch over and over?
- What is your biggest pet peeve?
- What is your dream job?
- What’s the most spontaneous day you’ve ever had?
- What would be your perfect, dream date?
Conversation starters for when you’re at an event:
- This venue is great, have you ever been here before?
- How did you hear about this event?
- What’s your favorite event food you have ever had?
- Where do you work/what do you do for a living?
- Who would you love to see as a keynote speaker one day?
- Which part of the event are you the most excited about?
- What other events have you attended recently or want to attend?
Conversation starters for at college (or to ask a college student):
- What is your major?
- What’s the craziest class or professor you have had so far?
- Are you involved with any campus groups?
- What’s your favorite and least favorite class this semester?
- What would be your dream job out of college?
- Who is the professor you’d most like to get drinks with?
- If you could study abroad anywhere where would it be?
Conversation starters for when you’re talking to kids:
- What is your favorite and least favorite snack?
- If you could become an animal which animal would you want to be?
- What is the silliest thing your parents tell you?
- If you could make a new class at school what would be the subject?
- If you only could eat one dessert forever what would it be?
- What is the funniest gift anyone has ever given you?
- What’s your favorite compliment (nice thing) someone tells you?
- Tell me your favorite joke?
- What is your favorite Disney movie?
Conversation starters for dinner parties (or similar social events):
- What style from your childhood is the most cringey?
- If you had to only go on the same vacation over and over what would it be?
- What is your all-time favorite restaurant?
- If you could invite any celebrity to this event and they would be guaranteed to come who would it be?
- If you could go back in time where/when would you go?
- What podcast should everyone listen to?
- Do you prefer paperback/hardcover books, Kindles, or audiobooks?
Conversation starters for trying to make a new friend:
- What are your favorite sports teams?
- What is your all time favorite meal?
- If you had all the supplies what drink would you make right now?
- If you could make a living off of your favorite hobby what would it be?
- What is your favorite holiday?
- Where did you grow up?
- Why and when did you move to this city?
- What thing makes you the most nostalgic?
- Do you have any pets?
Conversation starters for talking to someone you don’t really want to talk to (keep it simple):
- What is your favorite weather?
- If you could only watch 1 TV show ever again what would it be?
- What is your favorite store to shop at?
- If you like to cook what’s your favorite thing to cook?
- What other city would you love to live in?
- What is your favorite vacation you ever went on?
- If you could play any board or card game right now what would it be?
Deep conversation starters for a significant other or friend:
- If you could get rid of one stress in your life what would it be?
- If you could fix one life mistake what would it be?
- Would you work a job you despise for 10 years to be able to retire in 10 years?
- How would you feel if the internet stopped existing forever?
- What part of your personality would you most like to improve?
- Where do you picture yourself in 5 years?
- What thing are you the most proud that you overcame?
- What is your top bucket list item?
Conversation starters for during the Holiday season:
- What is your favorite Holiday tradition?
- List your favorite Holiday songs (don’t make them sing them though!)?
- What is your favorite Holiday movie?
- Do you like to decorate for different holidays?
- What is your favorite dessert to make during the holidays?
- What is your favorite gift you ever got?
- Do you prefer to give or get presents?
Remember, small talk isn’t fun for almost anyone! So being prepared to keep the conversation going because it will be easier on everyone involved.
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