Just because it’s small talk, it doesn’t mean it’s easy. Sometimes the lightest and most casual of conversations can be the hardest to pull off.
When you don’t have anything deep or important to say, it’s challenging to find things to discuss.
Most “small talk” scenarios also involve interacting with strangers, acquaintances, or people you don’t know that well. So how can you captivate them?
These simple tricks will engage and make you the most interesting person in the room…
1) Show genuine interest
It all starts with authenticity. The most interesting people I’ve spoken to showed a genuine interest in me.
During those conversations, they would ask me questions because they truly did want to know more.
And like a good tennis match, there would be a great back and forth as we embarked on a journey together learning about each other.
2) Be a good listener
These excellent conversationalists were simply good listeners. When they’d ask a question, they would wait for the answer before moving on.
And when they’d hear an answer, there would be thoughtful follow-up statements or questions.
If they’re intently listening, the conversation would carry verses abruptly ending.
3) Display enthusiasm
In addition to listening intently, another great trick to being a more interesting person during small talk is by showing genuine enthusiasm in others.
That can come in the form of sharing stories…
4) Share stories
I love conversing with people who have interesting stories to tell. Who doesn’t love a good story?
To captivate, you will have to have cool, fun, or fascinating anecdotes ready to go.
Those stories should also be relevant to who you’re talking to or the situation at hand. If the stories shared come out of left field, you can tell the person is not genuinely interested or listening.
5) Become a good storyteller
When you do tell your stories, think about your ark or climax. Don’t lead with the most compelling part of the story. Save it for later!
Before you enthrall with your punchline or conclusion, be concise and engaging as you tell your story from start to finish to keep people on the hook.
6) Open up about your hobbies and interests
If your conversation isn’t lending itself to telling stories, you can discuss things you enjoy doing instead.
Have you taken up a new hobby? Tell people about it. Will people find your interests engaging? Intrigue them with it.
And don’t just keep it a one-way conversation. Ask other people if they’d want to partake in things that you’re involved in, or simply ask them what they think of it.
7) Lead with your passion
People will only be captivated by your hobbies and interests if you are truly passionate about it.
For the most interesting people, their passion and enthusiasm is infectious.
Let other people discover your passions through your eyes. Let them into your world so they can experience it with your words.
8) Stay up to date on current events
Small talk can absolutely revolve around current events, as long as you stay away from controversial topics like politics and abortion rights.
Basic knowledge of what’s happening in the world can go a long way during banter. You can contribute insights, details, and even your opinion.
From eye-opening research to the funniest, trending meme you saw on social media, if you have your finger on the pulse, you can share the interesting tidbits with others.
9) Have a good grasp of pop culture
Speaking of memes, being in tune with what’s happening on social media can weirdly make you more interesting during small talk.
You can reference trending gifs and TikTok videos in conversations that can spark interest.
You can also contribute celeb gossip and news, like what Bennifer has been up to lately or what they missed at the latest Taylor Swift Eras concert.
Enrich people’s lives with your pop culture literacy.
10) Prepare conversation topics ahead of time
If you don’t have time to scour social media or read the news, that’s okay.
You can fake it somewhat. Before the next get-together or public gathering, prepare some topics ahead of time by doing some rapid research.
- Look at the latest trending hashtags on TikTok
- Watch an hour of the TODAY show on NBC
- Check out the front pages of Washington Post and New York Times
11) Be well-read and educate yourself
You know the rapid research we just mentioned in #10? If you have the time, do that every day to be well-read and educated.
Read books, articles, or blog posts from reputable places on a variety of topics so you have a base of knowledge.
It’s not ideal to fake it if you want to be a genuinely interesting person during small talk. Incorporate reading and learning into your every day so it comes naturally and authentically.
12) Be well-traveled
Some of the most interesting insights you can bring up in conversation will be things no one else has experienced.
As a well-traveled person, you can collect really cool, offbeat, unknown facts and encounters from around the globe to share with others.
13) Expand your experiences
If you don’t have the means to traipse across the globe, just experiencing things on the local level can also make you a more interesting person.
Check out what’s happening around your town, and participate.
Try to align your experiences with things that genuinely interest you, so you can enjoy yourself in the process. When you share these happenings with others, they’ll be as inspired as you.
14) Get yourself out of your comfort zone
I know this isn’t easy. People tend to do only things that make them feel safe, secure and comfortable.
However, forcing yourself out of your comfort zone will give you awesome stories to tell. It’ll also make you more confident, which inherently makes you more magnetic in conversations.
Do things you wouldn’t ordinarily do to help yourself grow.
15) Develop a sense of humor
Look, you may not be born funny, but humor can play such a huge role in conversations.
If you’re enjoyable, fun, and memorable, people will gravitate towards you.
You can develop this skill by watching standup comedians, reading jokes, or just finding “the funny” in your everyday life. (Think: Seinfeld.)
16) Cultivate your sense of self
Do you know who you are? Do you like yourself?
If the answer is no, you have some more work to do. Embrace how unique you are—from your strengths to your weaknesses.
Ask yourself, what makes you you? Cultivate your sense of self so you can be comfortable in conversations with strangers.
This leads me to my last point…
17) Be authentic
Although you read this article to arm you with strategies to make yourself more interesting during small talk, the best thing you can do is to be yourself.
If you stay true to who you are, people will naturally find you magnanimous. The authenticity is sensed and felt without words.