Sometimes we engage in brief conversations simply to build rapport or as a polite gesture.
These conversations, which could range from friendly inquiries or be on any friendly observations around you, are known as small talks.
They could be with someone you know before you get into a more serious conversation with them, or with someone you are not too familiar with, as well as someone you’ve just met which could lay the foundation for what could be a friendship or even a relationship.
In interviews, small talk is sometimes used by interviewers to ease tension and make the interviewee feel a bit more relaxed.
People also make small talk to pass time or break an awkward silence.
While there are a lot of topics to start these conversations with, there are times we have a hard time making small talk.
It might not be that you are shy, but finding the right words to start with might just seem difficult.
However, here are a few simple questions for small that may be helpful to engage another person in small talk.
Questions to ask for small talk
About work/ At work
- What do you like most about your job?
- What are your career goals?
- What are you working on at the moment?
- What did you study?
- How was your weekend?
- Do you prefer working from home/ would you rather work from home
- What other skills would you love to learn?
- What do you do after work?
- How was your night?
- Where would you like to be in 10 years?
- What’s your dream job?
- What would you like to be incredibly good at?
- What would you say motivates you?
- Why did you choose your career?
- Is there anything else you would have loved to do?
- How do you get rid of the distractions and remain focused?
- Any book for staying motivated you would recommend?
- What was your first job?
- What are you passionate about?
- What’s the best advice you’ve received?
- What valuable skills do you have?
- Do you understand (a particular topic)?
- How many languages can you speak?
- Who’s your favorite teacher?
- What’s your favorite class?
- Are you new here?
- What did you learn today?
- What’s the hardest class you’ve taken?
- What made you chose your school?
At a party
- How did you meet the host?
- You look familiar, where did you school?
- Are you having fun?
- Nice shirt, where did you get it from?
- Where are you from?
- What do you think about music?
- Do you like parties?
- Are you a fan of (a genre of music)?
- What’s the worst pickup line you’ve heard someone use?
- If you were asked to describe yourself in three words, what would you say?
- What drink would you suggest I should get?
- What else do you do for fun?
- Are you a good dancer?
- What would you say that you are really good at?
- What do you admire most in a person?
- Do you play any musical instrument?
- Are you into fashion?
- Have you ever been to a concert?
- What makes you laugh?
- Where did you grow up?
- What habit annoys you the most?
Outdoor Activities/ Hobbies
- What do you think about this place?
- Where do you recommend I get a great meal?
- Do you know any other fun places around?
- Is this your first time here?
- Do you think it’s going to rain?
- I’m sorry to bother you, but what book are you reading?
- Do you come here often?
- Do you like music?
- What’s your favorite sport?
- What fun activity do you do?
- What’s your favorite hobby?
- Your favorite sports team?
- Do you collect anything?
- What’s your favorite season?
- What’s your favorite outdoor activity?
- Do you have pets?
- What’s your favorite animal?
About a movies/show
- Have you seen (name of a movie?), was it interesting?
- What your favorite part of the movie?
- What did you enjoy about the performance?
- What do you think about the movie?
- Who’s your favorite actor
- How do you think the movie should have ended?
- Which famous actor would you like to meet?
- What is your favorite comedy/ funniest movie?
- What’s your favorite TV series?
- Have you been to the new restaurant that just opened up?
- What do you think about the food here?
- Do you go to other places or just here to eat?
- What’s your favorite meal?
- How do you like your dessert?
- What’s your favorite fruit?
- What’s your favorite drink?
- What did you have for breakfast?
- What’s your favorite snack?
- Your favorite ice cream flavor?
- Tea or coffee?
- What’s your go-to meal?
- What books do you read?
- What is your favorite book?
- Who is your favorite author?
- What book would you recommend for someone who wants to start reading?
- Books or movies, which do you prefer?
- What book have you read so many times?
- Who was your favorite character in the book?
- If you were to write a book, what would it be about?
- Do you write?
- What did you think about (a book)?
- What interesting thing did you read today?
- What was the best scene in the movie?
90 Questions about love and relationships – Questions on various topics about love and relationships you could talk on.
Conversation questions for a first date – A few questions to ask if you’re clueless on a first date
How to make small talk
It’s not that difficult to come up with a topic to engage someone in a conversation.
As long as the person you’re talking to interested in talking to you, all you need is confidence.
Here’s a strategy that could help you bring up something easily and make small talk.
Questions to make small talk
Questions are one of the easiest ways to start a conversation and get a response with a lesser chance of being turned down at the spot, provided that whoever you are trying to start the conversation with is not rude and is interested to talk.
Also, questions could really work for you if you are feeling a bit nervous.
Considering that you might not be too familiar with this person or that you might just be meeting them for the first time, these questions do not have to deep, intimate, or even personal which could be a bit uncomfortable to bring up earlier on in the conversation.
Your primary focus is to ease the tension between the both of you, and from their responses gauge how well the conversation is going, then you can move on to ask other questions once you find a common ground.
These questions do not have to be far fetched but could be sourced from things in your environment. Hence the ease to ask questions about the menu, the direction to a place, the weather which may seem like it is about to rain and so on.
Starting a conversation with a polite comment
You do not always have to start the conversation with a question; a comment could do the trick.
It could be in the form of a polite opinion directed towards whoever you wish to have a conversation with.
It could come as recommending a book, music, or a movie just to start a conversation with someone you just met.
You could look at whoever you are trying to break the ice with and give your thoughts about something; a meal considering it was in a restaurant and the food which tastes incredible.
They could either share their own views or they would simply nod their head which could possibly mean that they do not know what to say or do not want to talk.
Starting a conversation with a joke
You would have to be confident to want to start your conversation with a funny statement or a joke. They could end up being cheesy, but they could work sometimes if the joke is delivered perfectly.
Like a performance, this strategy does require charisma, composure, and also a certain degree of originality. You would have to pay attention to their reaction as well.
I would however not recommend this strategy to someone who would easily get nervous and would not able to deliver as could end up feeling embarrassed. Although with practice there are chances one could be able to pull this through.
Starting a conversation with a compliment
A genuine compliment could make anyone smile and ease the way for a conversation to begin.
However, a compliment could backfire if you come off as being desperate with needy statements, or when the compliment seems sarcastic or like an attempt at flattery. This could immediately be a turn off to the person you are trying to have a conversation with.
Another thing about compliments is that some people do not know how to take them or would likely assume that they are being sarcastic.
In using a compliment as a conversation starter, the key is moderation, keep it to the minimum and try not to overdo it.
Starting with an introduction
As simple as an introduction might seem, it could end up being effective as a conversation starter to make small talk with someone.
Why go through all the stress of figuring what to say when you could easily introduce yourself by name and then ask for theirs.
If you don’t think that you can pull off either of the other ways to start a conversation with someone you’ve met as they might be too complex for you, a greeting, your name, and asking for theirs may suffice as a conversation starter.
The way you start the conversation with someone you are interested in could be what gives the person their impression of you.
But asides from how you start the conversation, you should keep in mind that you should approach the person in a manner that would not seem threatening or would make them startled or intimidated.
Finally, at every point in the conversation, you would have to observe how the way they react, if it shows they are interested or not, or if they are in a hurry and unable to pay attention to what you have to say.