How to Start a Conversation | The Best Conversation Starters

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Some tips on how to start a conversation—and how to keep a conversation going when you have one.

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This post is all about tips on how to start a conversation.

Whether you’re dealing with holiday parties, work meetings, dinners, or other events, it can be difficult to know how to start conversations and what to talk about once a conversation has started.

But knowing how to start a conversation, and how to carry a conversation to a conclusion, is an important life skill to have. Whether you are having a brief conversation with someone while standing in line at the coffee shop or smoozing with coworkers at a holiday party, it’s good to know how to exchange a few words to be sociable or polite.

A big part of being a good conversationalist is to have something to talk about. This means having interests to share and things to talk about with other people. One of the best ways to become a good conversationalist is to be an interesting person.

But conversion is a two-way street, and some people are easier to talk to. On occasion, you find people who like to talk about themselves or things that interest them. In that case, all that you need to do is get them started talking, and then you sit back and listen.

Some people just aren’t very talkative, and that’s okay, too. Sometimes exchanging a bit of small talk is all that is needed. Some people are shy and waiting for someone else to break the ice.

In any case, you can do your part by making an effort to communicate. The trick is to be able to listen and to identify a common point that can keep the conversation going.

Another thing that helps to start and continue conversations is to avoid yes / no questions. For example, you might ask someone, “What did you have for breakfast today?” or “What’s the funniest thing that you’ve seen this week?” These are open-ended questions that can get people talking.

For example, if you ask someone if they have tried any good restaurants lately and they say no, then you could mention a new restaurant that you and your family or friends are planning to try. You might mention if you’ve heard good reviews about the restaurant. This gives the other person a chance to ask questions, and you have just given someone an idea for a new place to try.

Conversations can also be industry, place, or location specific. Find out what a lot of people are interested in based on where you are or the crowd that you are with. Sometimes knowing a little bit about a common theme or a popular pastime is all it takes to start a good conversation with another person.

10 Ways to Become Better at Making Conversation

Here are some ideas on how to start conversations and find things to talk about.

1—Say hello.

Sometimes the easiest way to start a conversation with someone is to just say hello. Say hello and introduce yourself. You can then ask the other person something that is related to the situation that you are in. For example, if you are at an office party and you meet someone who you don’t know, then you can ask what department they are from.

2—Be interested.

Find out people’s interests by asking them simple questions, such as what do you do, or bringing up topics about yourself that give other people the chance to share things about themselves—for example, how you’re related to a host (if you’re at a party or gathering), if they have kids, their ages, and how many, current events, or places that you’ve been recently.

3—Look for things that you have in common.

There are plenty of things to find in common with other people, whether it has to do with family, friends, work, hobbies, or things to do in your spare time. For example, do people have school-age kids? Talk about schools in your area.

4—Know about the weather.

Talking about the weather is often a great way to get a conversation started, especially when the weather is remarkable (colder than usual, rainier than usual, or hotter than usual, for example). Long-range weather reports for your area can give information to share that other people might not know.

5—Read newspapers, journals, and magazines.

Reading the headlines and main stories of local and major newspapers or publications can give you plenty of topics to talk about with other people. Magazines and trade journals can give you topics to talk about with people who share your own interests or career fields.

6—Travel.

The topic of travel is a great conversation starter among people who love to travel or people who want to travel. If you travel a lot, then you may be able to offer a few tips to people who want to travel—such as your thoughts about whete to stay, places to eat, and things to do. If you find a common interest, such as skiing, diving, or spending time at the beach, then it can be fun and interesting to compare notes.

7—Find a hobby.

Hobbies can be a good conversation starter, especially if you have a hobby or interest that is shared by other people, or if you practice a hobby or activity that you are recognized for among colleagues, friends, or acquaintances.

8—Watch popular TV or streaming shows.

Watch the latest show that everyone is talking about. If you like the show and identify a few characters or story lines to follow, then you’ll always have something to talk about, depending on the crowd that you mingle with.

9—Join a club.

Activity clubs bring together people who share common interests. Joining a club can be a good way to find like-minded people or to spend time with people who share common ground. This makes it easier to start conversations—you can talk about topics that you are familiar with. Plus, as you become more familiar with people, it’s easier to expand the range of topics that you talk about.

10—Read a Book.

If a book is featured in popular reviews or publications, then there’s a good chance that other people are reading it. If you have a few books in mind, then you can continue a conversation by asking, “Have you read any good books lately?” once your initial conversation is underway.

Basic Conversation Starters + Icebreakers to Get People Talking

Here are some ideas for icebreakers and conversation starters can be used in different situations at parties and gatherings.

  • “Hello, how do you do?”
  • “It’s cold outside, isn’t it?”
  • “Are you from here?” This one is especially good in a place where a lot of people tend to be from someplace else. If a person says no, then you can ask more questions. “How long have you lived here?” “Have you heard about (famous local restaurant or landmark, for example)…?”
  • “Have you read any good books lately?”
  • “Have you seen any good movies / shows lately?”
  • “Did your hear about (current news or event, new restaurant, etc.) … ?”
  • “Have you seen / heard / done anything exciting or interesting lately?”
  • “Have you tried any good restaurants lately?”
  • “So, how do you know (e.g. your host or a friend or acquaintance that you both have in common)? …”
  • “What is the funniest Christmas gift that you ever received? (This is a good one for holiday parties.)
  • “How was your day?” (For family, friends, or more intimate relationships.) You could also say, “Tell me something good about your day…”.

Group conversations can be even better–especially for people who find it hard to have conversations with people who are unfamiliar.

If you are hosting a party, gathering, or meeting, consider putting together a few icebreakers to get people talking. Depending on the crowd, this can be a good time to ask fun questions that could result in interesting answers, such as:

  • What is your favorite [name of artist] song?
  • If you could make any activity an Olympic sport, what would it be and why?
  • Name something that …
  • What did you have for breakfast this morning?
  • What is a good movie that you’ve seen recently?

You can also play icebreaker games with your guests. It can be a good idea to sort through cards or questions ahead of time, to make sure that the icebreakers and questions are appropriate for your group.

Food is typically a great way to unite people, so make sure to have a great appetizer spread that gives your guests plenty to much on as they get to know each other. Here are some tips on how to make a cheese plate or how to make a charcuterie board. Easy party dips, including seven layer dip, can also be a great way to entertain guests, and easy to make punch recipes can be a great way to stay refreshed.

This post was all about how to make conversation and small talk with people.

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Credits
  • Photo by NordWood Themes / Unsplash
  • Photos are for illustrative purposes only.

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