It’s a skill that every adult can use, but not all have. Some have it naturally while others have to work on it. What is it? Small talk.
Small talk refers to casual and light conversation that typically serves as an icebreaker or a way to establish rapport in social situations. It involves engaging in friendly and non-controversial topics, such as the weather, current events, hobbies, or shared experiences.
So whether you’re at a party or networking, use these small talk phrases to get the conversation going. They can help you become a master of banter.
1) “How’s your day going?”
This simple and open-ended question shows genuine interest in the person you’re talking to. It invites them to share something about their day.
2) “What do you enjoy doing in your free time?”
This question allows you to discover shared interests with other people. It also shows that you’re genuinely trying to get to know someone.
3) “Have you been on any interesting trips lately?”
Asking about vacations and visits can lead to engaging stories and shared wanderlust.
Pro tip: If you’ve gone to the same places as the person you ask, the conversation will become more robust. The mutual connection from sharing similar experiences can even create a new friendship.
4) “Do you have any hobbies or special talents?”
This question helps uncover unique aspects of the person’s life and opens up possibilities for further discussion.
You can tell a lot about a person by their interests. Are they into music? Do they watch the same reality TV as you?
5) “Have you watched [fill in a TV show or movie here]?”
Discussing favorite entertainment choices can reveal common interests and provide insights into the person’s preferences.
Are you both obsessed with “Ted Lasso”? Did you both love the latest superhero flick? It’s a surefire way to have something to discuss, especially if their answer is a familiar one.
6) “What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?”
While small talk is typically not intense, sometimes it’s okay to get a little deep.
Asking someone about their most treasured advice can really engage them, not to mention you!
This question invites personal stories and allows for meaningful conversations about life lessons that you can take with you and apply later.
7) “What’s your go-to comfort food?”
Discussing food preferences can be light and enjoyable.
Leading to shared experiences and memories, you and your conversation counterpart can compare and contrast your favorite eats.
If the other person’s go-to comfort food is also offbeat, it’ll make for an even more interesting discussion.
8) “Did you catch any interesting news or headlines recently?”
Staying informed about current events can spark conversations about a wide range of topics and show that you’re engaged in the world.
Just word to the wise: stay away from politics and abortion rights. Small talk is only effective if it doesn’t breed tension.
Keep things light while also maintaining people’s interest.
9) “What’s the most exciting thing you’ve done lately?”
Encouraging the person to share recent exciting experiences can lead to enthusiastic storytelling and positive conversations.
Don’t you want to know what’s enthralled other people? And if you’re into the activity, you can partake next!
10) “How do you recharge or relax after a busy day?”
Some follow-ups to this include: Do you like to have a glass of wine? Do you do bubble baths?
These questions reveal how the person unwinds. It can also offer opportunities to exchange self-care tips and techniques.
11) “Do you have any pets?”
Whether you’re a cat person or a dog person, one or the other will mean you’re obsessed with your pet.
Ask people you meet if they have a fur baby. Pets are a popular topic and often elicit heartfelt stories and shared experiences as people talk about their furry friends.
If they don’t have a pet, move on to a different topic unless they’re genuinely interested about animals even though they don’t have one. For example, perhaps they’re considering adopting.
12) “What’s the most memorable concert or live performance you’ve attended?”
Did you both hit up the insanely popular Taylor Swift Eras tour? You should be so lucky.
If you both lucked out with tickets, you can discuss the show like the true Swifties that you are. If you both didn’t go, you can talk about the agony of your FOMO.
Discussing music and live events can create a lively and nostalgic conversation, with opportunities to share favorite artists and experiences.
13) “What’s your favorite way to spend a weekend?”
You can ask for small talk purposes. You can also ask because you want to add to your weekend repertoire.
This question invites the other person to share their ideal weekend activities, offering insights into their hobbies and preferences.
14) “Have you tried any new restaurants or cafes lately?”
Sharing recommendations and experiences related to dining out can be a great way to bond over shared culinary interests.
It also gives the person you’re talking to an opportunity to exercise their foodie skills if they are one.
15) “How did you get into your line of work?”
If you know someone’s role and admire it, you can craft your small talk to show genuine interest in their career trajectory.
Asking about someone’s work journey shows interest in their professional story and can lead to discussions about their passions and aspirations.
16) “Do you have any upcoming exciting plans or events?”
This question encourages other individuals to talk about their future adventures. Whether it’s a vacation, a special celebration, or a personal project, they’ll be excited to mention it.
If the person you’re speaking to doesn’t have any upcoming exciting plans or events, abort the mission. Bring up something else.
17) “What’s your favorite way to stay active or exercise?”
Be careful with this one. Only ask this question if the person you’re talking to is clearly interested in exercise. If they’re not, it could backfire because they might think you’re being “shady.”
If they are active, discussing fitness and wellness can lead to shared tips, exercise recommendations, and stories of personal achievements.
18) “Have you ever had a funny or memorable encounter with a celebrity?”
Stars, they’re just like us—as the headline would put it. But even though stars are people just like you and me, it’s still fascinating to learn things about them.
This question sparks entertaining anecdotes and can create a lighthearted atmosphere for storytelling.
You can then ask part two to the question: What were they like? Were they nice?
19) “What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned recently?”
Asking people about their growth can be a very easy topic to cover. Most people are proud of their learnings, and love to share them.
Encouraging the person to divulge newfound knowledge or interesting facts can lead to engaging conversations and learning opportunities for you too.
If they haven’t learned anything recently, perhaps you can mention something you have learned.
Using these phrases shows genuine interest in the other person, invites them to share their experiences and perspectives, and helps create a comfortable and enjoyable small talk environment.
Remember, small talk is about building connections and finding common ground, so be attentive, listen actively, and respond with genuine curiosity and enthusiasm.
It’s not a one-way conversation. Bounce statements, ideas, and questions back and forth in order to develop rapport.