Have you ever found it difficult to find a topic to talk about when you meet someone new at a social gathering? Do you find it burdensome to keep the conversation going?
If your answer to these questions is a strong “yes”, then it’s probably high time you reconsider your communication skills. If you don’t know how to keep a conversation going, it can hurt your confidence and discourage you from initiating interaction with other people.
To get you on the right track, here are some of the things you can say to keep a conversation going.
5. Food or Drink Recommendations
If it’s your first time to a place, it’s a good idea to ask people around about what food or drink they like ordering from the venue. Aside from giving you a good idea about the place, you can also take it as an opportunity to connect with new people.
You might even be surprised to hear lots of food and drink recommendations from these people.
8. Using Humor To Start A Conversation
Humor is a good way to engage people. When people laugh, it means that they are listening to you and they’re having a good time.
You don’t have to be too creative or a comedian to crack a little joke. In fact, you can simply start off by sharing a funny story or making a witty inquiry that’s relevant to the current topic. You don’t necessarily have to make people continuously laugh. However, once you’re able to start with a humorous tone, it’s relatively easy to switch topics.
Keeping a conversation going is as hard as starting one. No matter how much effort you put into it, it’s still inevitable for some people to lose interest in what you’re talking about.
Despite this, it’s important that you keep it real as possible. People can easily know if you’re faking interest or forcing yourself into the conversation. Instead of building a connection, you’d be pushing people away from you.
Don’t Say “You Don’t Know What To Talk About” anymore. The next time you’re talking to someone, try one of these topics. Aside from giving you more ideas to talk about, they can also help boost your confidence.
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Neutral Topics Focused on Daily Activities
Recent weather over the past few days
In the United States, weather is the go-to topic of small talk when you are starting a conversation with someone. Everyone experiences it, and everyone has an opinion on it.
Here are a couple of ways to comment on the weather but also ask a more interesting question that will allow your conversation partner to respond.
- “It’s been so warm out lately! Have you spent any time outside recently?”
- “The rain has been nonstop this week. Are you getting sick of staying indoors?”
- “It got cold so quickly. I finally had to break out a heavy jacket. What about you?”
Traffic or the daily commute, especially in major cities
We all have to get to the office (or university) one way or another. Sometimes, this can be stressful and your colleague may want to vent (share a negative opinion) about it. Or they may have some positive thoughts about commuting.
- “There was so much traffic today on my way to work. I took I-5, but there has to be a better way. How do you get here?”
- “Today on my way to work there was an accident involving a truck carrying lots of oranges, and they spilled out of the truck. What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen during your commute?”
- “My commute was so short today, but I feel like I needed an extra 10 minutes to get energized while listening to my morning music. What do you like to listen to in the car?”
- “The Red Line was super slow today. Did that affect you too?”
Neutral Topics Based on Entertainment
Funny or unusual news
If you’re not sure what to talk about, you can come prepared with something unusual you read about on Yahoo’s Odd News or saw mentioned on social media. You can ask a question to see if your coworker has heard about it, and if not, tell them more.
- “Did you hear about…?”
- “Have you seen that article about….?”
- “Have you heard anything about…?
- “I saw the craziest thing on Facebook yesterday….. Did you happen to see it?”
Recent viral YouTube videos
Similarly, many people like to talk about funny or interesting videos on YouTube, so if you have seen something amusing or inspiring, like a racoon stealing a donut, you can use that as a conversation starter.
- “Did you see that video of….?”
- “I saw the cutest video the other day. It was….”
- “What did you think of that video about…? Have you seen it?”
Local sporting events
In general, talking about sporting events like the local baseball or basketball team can be a good topic of conversation with some of your coworkers, especially if the team is having a good season.
I suggest paying attention to what people talk about after meetings or during networking events to find out who likes sports before bringing them up. (Believe it or not, finding a way to talk about sports can actually help your career.)
Remember that in some cities there are big rivalries between sports teams, so be careful when expressing strong preferences.
- “I saw that the Celtics had a great game last night. Did you watch it?”
- “Last night’s baseball game went into overtime. I couldn’t stay awake any longer! How’d it turn out?”
- “I don’t know much about American football. Do you have a favorite team? How are they doing this year?”
Major television/entertainment events
Every few months, there are major television or entertainment events which are watched by many people, like the Super Bowl, the Oscars, the Grammys, the Emmys, and the American Music Awards.
These are good conversation topics if they have happened recently, as even people who have not watched them probably know something about the results.
- “Did you watch the Grammys this year? What’d you think?”
- “I loved the Super Bowl Halftime show this year. Do you think it was as good as last years?”
- “I can’t believe ____________ won the Oscar! I thought ____________ was going to win. What about you?”
Popular television programs and recent movies, especially blockbusters
While not everyone watches a lot of television or goes to the movies, it is usually a good neutral conversation topic, especially when catching up with a friend or acquaintance.
Try to ask questions about current series that are very popular, season and series finales, movies that have recently been released, or whatever is being watched on Netflix.
- “Have you been watching Game of Thrones? What’d you think about the latest episode?”
- “Have you seen ________ yet? Do you recommend it?” OR “Do you plan to see it?”
- “I started watching ________ on Netflix. Is there anything else I should watch?”
Local tourist attractions
If you live in a city, there are probably a lot of tourist attractions that people enjoy talking about. If not, your colleagues probably like to go to the beach, local hiking trails, or skiing in the mountains.
If you are new to the area, you can ask your coworkers some questions about places to visit. People love to give recommendations.
- “Have you been to the beach this summer? How was it?”
- “I was thinking of going for a walk/for a hike this weekend. Any suggestions in the area?”
- “I haven’t been to the Museum of Fine Arts recently. Have you? Did you like the latest exhibition?”
Neutral Topics Based on Vacations and Future Plans
Weekend plans, if it’s Thursday or Friday
It is common to ask colleagues about their upcoming plans for the weekend on Thursday or Friday, which shows interest in their lives. They can answer with as much detail as they would like. If someone asks you, you only have to share what you feel comfortable saying.
- “Any special plans for the weekend?”
- “What are you up to this weekend?
Upcoming holiday plans, if a long weekend or major holiday is approaching
Most Americans look forward to long weekends and often take advantage of the extra day off to go on a short trip or do something special, so it’s a good topic of conversation.
- “I’m looking forward to Labor Day! What about you?”
- “Any special plans for the long weekend?”
- “Going anywhere for the holiday?”
Upcoming vacation plans, if it is a high travel season like summer
Many people take vacation during the summer, and people with kids often take trips during school vacations. Asking questions about upcoming travel plans is a good way to get the other person talking.
- “Are you planning on taking any trips this summer?”
- “Any vacation plans coming up?”
- “What are your kids up to during their school vacation?”
Recent vacations, if you know they have recently come back from one
Similarly, if your coworker has recently come back from a trip, you can ask questions about their travels and ask to see pictures.
- “How was your trip?”
- “How was Europe?”
- “Did you have a good time?”
- “You just got back from California, right? Did you take any pictures?”
Giving Compliments and Asking Expert Advice
Compliments on a new hairstyle, especially for women
If you notice that your colleague has recently gotten a haircut or is wearing their hair differently, you can give them a compliment and follow it up by asking them for advice.
- “Did you get your hair cut? It looks great!”
- “I love your new hairstyle. How did you do that?”
- “I’ve always wanted to learn how to braid my hair like that. Any advice?”
- “I love your new hair cute. Where did you get it done?”
Compliments on an article of clothing
Similarly, most people appreciate compliments on an article of clothing, both men and women! You can follow up a compliment with another question.
- “I love your scarf! Where did you find that?”
- “My husband has been looking for a tie like that. Where’d you get it?”
- “I need a new spring jacket. I love yours. Where did you buy it?”
Questions about where to buy specialty items that you know your coworker is interested in, such as gourmet teas, cool shoes, or jewelry
If you have been paying attention to your coworkers, you probably notice that one of them drinks a lot of tea, another always goes to a nearby coffee shop, someone wears really interesting rings, or has colorful shoes. This means that they probably have a lot of opinions on these things and can give good recommendations.
- “I noticed you really like tea. Where can I get some good tea?”
- “Have you found a good coffee shop around the office? I would like a good latte.”
- “I love your shoes, they’re so unique. Where can I get some like yours?”
- “You always have the coolest necklaces. Where do you shop?”
Food, especially if you are at a meeting where food is provided or it is breakfast or lunch time
Most people love talking about food – or the diets they are on. If you are at a meeting where food is provided, or preparing breakfast or lunch in the office kitchen, this is an easy topic to bring up.
- “I love the sandwiches from this restaurant. Which one is your favorite?”
- “That salad looks delicious. What’s in it?”
- “I’ve been craving a red velvet cupcake. What’s your favorite flavor?”
Cool apps or useful websites, especially if they help you do work better
With so much technology and new apps and products being released every day, it is very likely that your coworker is using interesting apps and websites to do work, manage their daily lives, or interact with friends and family.
If you need any suggestions, you can ask them for some tech advice, especially if the apps or websites will help you do work better.
- “I’ve been looking for a good app for to-do lists. What do you use?”
- “I’ve heard that Evernote is so helpful for staying organized. Have you tried it?”
- “I can’t keep up with all the new apps. What are you using these days?”
7) Embrace curiosity.
Life lessons are everywhere. If you turn the conversation with someone you’ve just met into a learning experience, you’ll be able to let go of the social anxiety and actually have fun.
Here’s how you can do that:
- Know you’re practicing your social skills – now’s the time to give a new technique a try and see how it goes.
- Ask for advice – sometimes, a stranger can give practical tips on how to deal with a situation in your life. He’s objective and that’s great. It means he’ll honestly say what he thinks, or what he’d do in the same situation, or share priceless knowledge and experience.
- Get to know the person – that’s a new individual you’re having the chance to spend time with, and with that come many new opportunities. Ask questions and listen carefully. Read between the lines and try to enter his world for a while.
Remember important details and get back to them later in the conversation. That shows you pay attention and care and it will mean a lot to the other person.