How to Make Small Talk? 12 Easy Tips
How many times have you said to yourself that you hate small talk? Believe me, after reading this post, and you will love starting smart talk. So, how to make small talk?
Many of us see small talk as the conversation’s cotton candy - unreal, unsatisfying, or unsubstantial. However, we didn’t even realize that it may lead to moments of real connection.
Who knows this conversation can result in deep understanding? After all, would it be a little lonely sipping your mocha latte without talking to someone about how it tastes great? Or would it be frustrating not to express how happy you are to buy your dream golf gear while walking down the street?
Whether it is personal or at work, small talk is the first step to establish relationships. So, if you are curious about how to make small talk, then keep reading!
What Does Small Talk Mean?
Imagine you are at a dinner party, and everyone is busy talking to someone else. Then, you are just standing next to people who you do not know. So, what will you do? For sure, you may want to talk to them, yet you are clueless about how to start a conversation. Don’t worry. We have all been there.
To avoid awkward silence, the best thing to do is to make a small stalk. But wait, what does small mean?
Small talk refers to a light, informal conversation. In essence, this polite conversation covers unimportant things. It is commonly used when talking to a stranger or someone who you do not know very well.
You can make this conversation during social events or networking activities. It is referred to as “small” since you will be talking unimportant things or topics to fill up an awkward moment and make you both feel more friendly and comfortable with each other.
In small talk, there’s no particular informative or functional elements.
Below is an example of small talk between two colleagues who pass each other at a corporate party:
Jack: Hi, Daniel. Enjoying the party?
Daniel: Oh, hello, Jack. Yes, I like it here. How about you?
Jack: Yes, I’m enjoying it so far. Catch you later.
Daniel: Alright. See you around.
Generally, the topics of small talk conversations are less important compared to their social function. Any selected topic will depend on the pre-existing relationship of two people and the circumstances of the conversation.
Topics can be either direct or indirect. Personal observations such as looks and health are considered as natural topics. As for the indirect topics, situational contexts such as television, sports, the latest news, relevant, fun facts that you lately heard, or even the weather are covered.
We encourage you the play trivia quizzes games daily to improve & expand your general knowledge. Gain more knowledge about more topics, and discover fascinating fun facts that can help you become the main contributor of every small talk.
Small Talk Conversation Starter Examples:
“Hi, William. It’s me, Pierce. You might not remember me, but we first met at Chris’ birthday party last year.”
“Did you watch the football game yesterday? I can’t believe my favorite team finally won!”
“What are you planning for this coming weekend?”
Hey there. I had a rough day. Was your entire day any better?
Hi Angela. Today was a busy day. I have gotten up from the seat all day long. How are things ended in the marketing department?
Did you see it already? I’ve heard they have finally fixed the light in the storage room. I’m glad they did that since it’s been broken for a week.
I tried cooking the grilled spareribs like yours, and it came out terrible. May I ask how did you manage to make them look so perfect?
Hey, I noticed that your skin is glowing. What skincare products do you apply to?
Small Talk for Introverts
Are you an introvert and just avoided making eye contact with your chatty office mate when you saw her at the grocery store? Do you have an introvert friend and skipped the company anniversary party so that he will not make any awkward conversation with your co-workers?
Introverts often ditch small talk. Why? Because they worry that they will run out of topics to say, or the conversation will be awkward or boring. There are excited and energized by ideas. Talking about people, who they know, and what they do tend to be noise for them. Oftentimes, they look between the lines for meanings and search for a way out of the conversation.
However, since introverts cannot always avoid networking events, cocktail parties, or the line for coffee, they need to exchange even a brief pleasantry with people around them. They need to realize that small talk does not have to be painful. There are easy yet effective ways how they can improve their conversational skills while making a positive impression.
If you are an introvert:
You need to reduce anxiety by staying positive and rational. Make sure to be purposeful by telling yourself that small talk can build the foundation for deeper relationships and more authentic conversations.
Since you tend to be curious, where you dig deep into topics that you find interesting and discover what makes people tick, why not channel your curiosities into small talk? Whenever you ask, “how was your day?” or a simple “how are you?” do not forget to approach the conversation with real interest. Showing genuine interest can invite further discussion.
Instead of providing a one-word, a closed response that will cut the conversation short, it’s an excellent idea to embellish your responses with juicy information. That way, you can make the person you are talking to interested in continuing the conversation.
Small talk conversations examples:
John: How are you?
Bruce: Hello, John. I’m good, thanks for asking. In fact, I’m getting ready for my vacation to Thailand. It would be my first visit to Asia, and I hope that my entire experience would be great.
Mary: What made you busy this weekend?
Janice: I went trekking. I enjoyed nature, and I got some nice photographs of it. I’ll show them to you next time we see each other, or you could join me next week. That would be interesting.
Lance: Where are you from?
Peter: I’m from New York, and I just moved here a couple of days ago. So far, I find this new place awesome. Coffee shops are on every corner.
If you want a small talk with introverts:
You need to recognize cues. Mind that introverts are often misinterpreted as a snobbish personality or too serious or intense about a particular topic.
As you attempt to make small talk with introverts, show them a genuine smile and express enthusiasm in the conversation. That way, they will not be taken aback by your opposite nature. If the person you are talking to gets fidgety, then it’s a sign that you need to switch to another topic.
When striking a small talk with introverts, avoid giving them a direct compliment. For example, if they are reading a book, you can ask about it politely and sincerely. You can say, “I’ve noticed you are really into that book. I guess it’s the newly released book of a local author. How good it?” This conversation started is neutral and non-threatening, which might open a door for a longer, more meaningful conversation without making anyone of you feel uncomfortable or self-conscious. You need to feel comfortable with your conversation partner in order to strike up a conversation.
If you see that the conversation went well, make sure to give them an opportunity to continue it some other time or do it through another medium. Just let them know that you are interested in talking about a certain topic more later.
The Art of Small Talk - How To Start A Small Talk
The way you will start a conversation might be the hardest. But don’t stress yourself. The following tips will help you:
Ask A Question
Asking a question can be a good conversation starter, and the following questions are good examples:
“What do you do?”
“What brings you here today?”
“What have you been up to?”
“What made you busy today?”
“How did your England trip go?”
“What are your plans this week?”
Give A Compliment
Compliments are effective in reducing tension and social distance. They can also open someone up. To give you an idea, check out the following examples:
That’s a nice shade of lipstick. It looks great on you, plus your outfit. Where did you get that?
Your skin is getting more beautiful, and you look very refreshed. Did you have a good night’s sleep?
Hey, Henry. I just read your marketing report, and I find it remarkable. How long did it take you for its completion?
Use A Surrounding Object
You can use different surrounding objects to start a conversation started. It can include someone or a person’s possession. For example:
ü I’ve seen that woman several times in our building. Do you know her?
ü Your bag looks similar to the one I saw at Jenny’s, and it looks great. Did you get this there?
Share Something About Yourself
You can open up the small talk by sharing information about yourself. You can share the things you did recently, the new hobbies you have been up to, or your goals for the next few months.
Ask for Help or Advice
Indeed, you will agree that help makes you feel like you are adding value to other people's lives, and you feel important. That is why asking them for advice will create a great atmosphere to start a conversation.
Scripts examples of conversations starting with asking for advice :
I’ve been wondering if I can add another feature for the product I am about to launch. [Insert description]. what do you think?
I am planning to create a new product campaign, and I am torn between two strategies. [Insert description]. Which one would you recommend?
I need to renovate my property in Seattle. Do you know someone who could help me with the renovation?
12 Tips to Get Better in Small Talks
So, you are invited to your friend’s wedding, or company party, or maybe a community group outing! These events offer opportunities to meet new people. On the other hand, events like these might bring anxiety to some people instead of excitement as small talk may be required in a situation.
Not everyone likes small talk. However, you need to understand that an enjoyable conversation may start from it. The point is, a lot of things may happen through small talk. It may be a simple space filler or a conversation opener, but it can lead to something deeper and more meaningful.
If you are having trouble making small talk or improving your approach to small talks, then here are 12 tips that will help you a lot:
Tip #1: Look for Opportunities
How often do you make small talks? If you want to become more comfortable doing it, then you need to do it more frequently.
The more frequently you make small talks, the more quickly you will learn which topics effectively generate the best conversations. You will easily know how to gauge people’s mood and personality according to their tone of voice and body language. You will have an idea of when is the best time to pivot to new topics and determine the signs that it’s time to wrap up the conversation.
The first few attempts can cause you nervousness. So, in order for you to reduce that nervousness, look for a low-stakes, and practice your small talk. You can try attending a meetup, going to casual networking events of varying industries, or simply asking your friends to bring you to their company events.
It’s a nice idea to talk to strangers about random yet exciting things whenever you are out. However, you need to make sure that the conversation is not forced because you might annoy that person instead of having a good small talk.
Tip #2: Pretend You Speaking to a Friend
Have you ever heard about the approach called “never met a stranger”? Well, you can use it to improve your small talk conversations. All you need is to talk to someone as if you have known him or her for years.
It would probably not be an edge if you make small talk with know too well, like your best friend. If you want a quick trick in mitigating your anxiety, then pretending that you are talking to an old friend will not hurt you. Besides, this mental shift is known to be effective in making you seem friendlier and warmer.
Tip #3: Talk Less, Listen More
Good listeners are those who have a genuine interest in what others are saying. By listening, you are given a chance to understand even the deepest thoughts of somebody else. If you have no ability to understand others, then it would be hard for you to communicate them effectively.
You can respond by paraphrasing and reflecting on the topic to show that you truly care what other people have to say. You can try hitting on something they are passionate about. After that, use the “tell me more” as magic words. Make sure to encourage elaboration. In case people ask you a question, use it as an opportunity to respond with substantive information.
Start with easy questions with a natural feel. However, try to listen attentively so that you can find another topic to talk about and keep the conversation flowing. You can use the following questions:
ü I didn’t know you work as a fashion designer. What kind of clothing do you design?
ü Oh, I lived in New York before. Are there new destinations I can visit when I go back?
Tip #4: Use the Beauty of F.O.R.M
The acronym F.O.R.M (Family, Occupation, Recreation, and Money) can easily open up a conversation. These four topics give you more ideas about the person you are talking to.
You can ask questions like “How long have you and your family lived in Miami?” or “Do you have kids?” After that, try to elaborate and share them about yours.
You can ask: “What do you do for a living?” “Where is your office located at?” or “Have you always been a web designer?” Then compare the differences and similarities in your jobs.
Try to ask questions related to things they do outside of work like “What do you do for fun?” or “Where do you usually go during bird watching?” Then figure out if you have something in common. Once you find common ground, it will improve the comfort level, which can make the conversation more enjoyable.
Ask questions like “Are you into the stock market?” or “What happened with the price of primary commodities?” Anything that is current is a good topic.
Tip #5: Practice the 20 Second Rule
The 20-second rule is helpful if you want to determine the perfect time to talk and to zip it. This approach is also known as the “Traffic Light Rule.”
During the first 20 seconds of talking, mind that you light will be GREEN. This is the time you need to ensure that your statements are relevant to the conversation to keep your listener's attention.
In the next 20 seconds, your light will turn to YELLOW. This is the time that you make sure that your listener will not think that you are long-winded or start to lose interest.
Your light will be R.E.D. at the mark of 40 seconds. You can use an occasional time and then keep talking.
Tip #6: Be Prepared
A good small talk can engage the listener while stimulating the conversation. If you want to have something to talk about, ensure that you are updated with the current events and trends.
While you are digging others' interests, do not forget to live a life of your own. You can try new things such as volunteering for causes, going back to school, accepting unusual invitations, or reading educational materials. Then you can use the experiences and information you gathered within social circles.
Tip #7: Model the Person You Admire When It Comes to Making Conversations
Who is your favorite conversationalist? Do you know someone whose conversation skills is admirable? If you know someone who receives positive attention during business meetings or social events, try to talk to that person.
It’s a nice idea to figure out what makes good conversationalists stand out in the crowd and those people’s most endearing qualities. Additionally, you can try determining how it feels when you are talking with people.
You can study their speaking style, opening and closing statements, and body language. After all, one of the best ways to enhance your conversational skills is by mimicking someone you admire in this area.
Tip #8: Use Your Body Language
How do you express interest during conversations? If your answer is using body language, then you are on the right track.
Do you find it elementary? Well, you need to change your mind. If you become observant, you will realize how effective it is. With unfolded arms, face the speaker. In case you are seated, slightly lean forward and make eye contact. Then make sure to acknowledge the statements with a nod, question, or comment appropriately.
Leaning in, sincere nodding, and eye contact are some of the body language cues that communicate interest. If you want a pleasant conversation, you need to show you truly care about what that person is saying.
Tip #9: Be More Social
Lack of confidence in business or social settings may signal for lack of conversational skills. To improve this skill, try to put yourself in social situations more often other than reading up on how to enhance communication skills.
As you attend social or business events, make sure to pay attention to how the conversation flow. Usually, people love to talk. Observe those people whom you find as effective communicators. Make sure to figure out what techniques they use and how they relate themselves to a certain group of people. Plus, do not forget to listen to the things they say as well as what they do not say.
Tip #10: Ask Open-Ended Questions
You can continue seeking information to ensure that the conversation keeps going. Discovering the topics that can generate enthusiastic responses, big things in people’s lives that mean a lot to them, and the possibility for common interests is among the keys to small talk.
You can think of open-ended questions to uncover the hot buttons of a person. Below are some of the questions to ask:
What activities excite you?
What are your major interests?
What types of things can make you relaxed?
What new is occurring in your life?
What do you like to do to make you calm?
While uncovering major things in someone’s life, gather the information that you can use to create future conversations.
Tip #11: Assume the Best in Every Person You Meet
When you meet new faces, you can assume that they are nice and they are your friend. Then, you can introduce yourself. For instance, you attend a holiday party and sitting beside someone you did not know. You do not need to introduce yourself and ask that person to be your friend. Instead, you can simply tell him or her that the food is great.
It’s funny that you are always told not to talk to strangers when you were a kid. At some point, if you obeyed that, how would you meet people? Do you think you will become close to your best friend if you didn’t respond to his or her hello one sunny morning while you were walking with your dog?
The taught about strangers may cause danger is not ideal when you try to make small talk and get to know people. If you open up yourself faster, you can skip a boring conversation starter.
Tip #12: Be Yourself
No one would ever like a fake conversationalist. Never try to be someone you are not for the sake of being more outgoing.
One of the best ways to improve your conversational skills is by simply being yourself. Once you try to pretend and the people you talked to knew about it, they will not trust you again. For example, if you see someone reading a book, you do not tell that person you already read it. Instead, be true and simply ask if the book was good.
There is nothing “small” when it comes to making small talk. That is because it can help you seem friendlier, easily get to know someone new, and eliminate awkward silences. Not only that, but you also tend to become closer to your co-workers and acquaintances.
With the above tips, are you ready for your next small talk?