You’re at a social event where everyone is talking, laughing, exchanging contacts.
You’re standing off to the side thinking, for the hundredth time, “I never know what to talk about?” or “I don’t know what to talk about!”
If this is you, then you’ve come to the right place! You’re one step closer to improving your conversation skills and finally knowing what to say. In fact, you’re probably a better conversationalist than you think!
Protip: It’s not about knowing what to talk about, but asking the right questions. With those questions, you discover topics and ideas you can talk about during a conversation. This helps keep the conversation flowing.
When starting a conversation, strive to be unique, interesting, and genuinely interested in the person you’re talking to. It’s also important to be comfortable and authentic.
This guide will give exactly what you need to start a conversation. Conversation starters are great for beginning a conversation or if you have an “I never know what to talk about” moment.
It will assist in taking conversations to the next level, which will potentially build a deeper, more meaningful relationship with someone. Or, just simply, having a fun conversation.
Challenge yourself to go beyond the generic and safe questions such as, “Where you from?” or “How’s your day?” type of questions.
Strive to impress people with above-average questions so you can keep the conversation going.
The formula: How to have great conversations
Below is a 4-minute video (a quick glimpse into our course) that gives you a few ideas on what you can talk about with someone during a conversation.
Or, if you don’t want to watch the video check out one of our posts on starting conversations and the formula:
Reminder: Not all of these questions will work in every situation, but will significantly improve many of your conversations you’ll participate in.
Pro Tip: Adjust and adapt your conversation starters based upon who you’re talking to and what kind of social context you’re in. Open-ended questions are your friend.
Author of “Networking in the 21st Century,” by David J.P. Fisher, explains his strategy for navigating professional and casual get-togethers:
“The most powerful way to start a conversation at industry events is the simplest: introduce yourself! Simply saying, ‘Hi, my name is ______’ invites them to respond with their name, and now you have a conversation. Sometimes it can be that simple. However, that still requires a lot of energy and anxiety.
It helps to have an open-ended question for follow-up after that. Something like, ‘What do you think of the event so far?’ or ‘Which has been your favorite session?’ works well.”
Receiving the answer to a specific question you ask isn’t always the goal. Having an interesting conversation is!
Don’t be afraid to dive deep, take risks, and learn something new.
Now, we have some of the most unique and interesting questions you can ask people. We’ve also made it easier by organizing the questions into categories to help you understand which questions might be better to ask in specific situations.
First, we want to give you a model to keep in mind when you’re talking to people in different situations. It’s an easy conversation blueprint to remember or refer to:
Pro Tip: Discover shared experiences and talk about what is relatable. Use those to extend the conversation.
Remember, YOU DON’T HAVE TO KNOW what you’re going to say in the exact moment of a conversation. But, as long as you’re curious, and have a few conversation starters in your back pocket, you’ll be OK. You got this!
Fun Conversation Questions:
Make things interesting. If you’re confident enough to try something different as a fun question.
- What was the last funny video you watched on YouTube?
- What is your favorite Netflix show? Tell me about it.
- How many days do you think it takes you to scroll a mile on your phone?
- What are some of your future travel plans?
- You remind me of a celebrity, but I’m having trouble remembering their name … Who are you usually compared to?
- Which countries have you traveled to? Anything unique?
- What type of music or songs puts you in a good mood?
- What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read lately?
- Do you listen to any podcasts? Which ones?
- I watched a great comedian this weekend. Who’s your favorite comedian or someone who makes you laugh?
- What’s your secret talent and how would you use it?
- I just learned “happy hours” were invented in the 1920s on Navy ships to make sea life less boring. Sailors had daily breaks for wrestling and boxing matches. Do you prefer the modern or original version?
Pro Tip: Compliments is a great way to begin a conversation or if you’re having an “I never know what to talk about” moment. Not only do they provide a perfect opening line and a possible door for discussion, but they also make the person feel good about themselves. Starting the conversation off on a positive note is crucial to keep the conversation going.
Deep Conversation Questions:
Get to know someone better. Be aware of body language or facial expressions which can signal they’re not comfortable talking about certain things.
1. What are some personal projects you’re working on?
2. Working on anything exciting lately outside of work?
3. What was the highlight of your day today?
4. What was the highlight of your week?
5. What was the best part of your weekend?
6. What are you looking forward to this weekend?
7. What’s your favorite part about living in [your location]? Least favorite?
8. I’m trying to plan my next trip — have you traveled anywhere interesting recently?
9. Tell me more about your family? What was it like growing up in [location]?
10. What was your relationship like with you [Mother, Father, Brother, Sister, etc]?
11. How adventurous are you when traveling?
12. What’s going well right now in life?
13. What are some of your political opinions?
14. Would you rather spend the day at an Art, Science, or History Museum?
15. Tell me about your childhood hero or someone you look up to?
16. If you could live anywhere in the world, and money was no object, where would you live and what would your home be like?
If you’re feeling adventurous:
Being funny always makes you more likable.
1. I just watched “Goodfellas” this weekend. If you were in the witness protection program, where would you go, what would your name be, and why? Also, what did you do to be in the witness protection program?
2. What would your theme song be while walking to work and why?
3. If you had the ability to be amazing at any job wanted what would it be?
4. Which celebrity would you have dinner with and what are the reasons?
5. If you received $1,000 a day for the rest of your life, what would you do with the extra cash?
6. If you could spend one month at any period during history when or what would it be?
Conversation Starters to Use At A Networking Event or Happy Hour:
Socializing with strangers during happy hour is more relaxed. Try to match your tone to the vibe of the social event.
Opening with different topics other than “How was work today?” can be a breath of fresh air. But, nothing brings people together like complaining about work!
1. What’s keeping you busy lately?
2. What are your thoughts of this restaurant? Suggest any good food or drinks?
3. What’s the best event freebie you’ve ever gotten from work?
4. Have you tried any of the food? What’s good here?
5. What are some of the things you got done today at work?
6. What made you come tonight? I usually don’t see you out.
7. How long have you lived [your location]? What are some things you like about it?
8. Where did you move to [city] from? What do you miss about your last town? What were you happy to leave behind?
9. I’d love your input on this. Should I have [appetizer #1] or [appetizer #2]? It’s the most important decision I’ve had to make today!
10. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
11. Are there any skills you thought would be crucial to your job that turned out to not be true?
Conversation Starters to use at Casual Social Events:
If you’re at a social event, you might want to consider staying away from serious subjects.
1. If you were in charge of the playlist at this party which song would you play next?
2. Have you tried any of the [appetizers, drinks, etc]? Any recommendations?
3. What’s your [day/night] going? Going as you expected?
4. Do you prefer hosting events or attending them? [Ask an open-ended question here]
5. What types of games are we playing tonight?
6. Who do you know here? [Try to find a mutual person in common]
7. I’m trying to plan my next trip — where do you suggest I go?
8. Read any interesting books lately? I’m trying to find another book to read.
9. Have you been to any great restaurants lately? [Tell me about them, if Yes]
10. Have any fun plans for the weekend? I need some inspiration so I don’t end up on the couch with TV and Pizza again.
11. Do you have a go-to conversation starter for these types of events?
12. Do you listen to any podcasts? Which ones do you recommend?
13. If you could only [read, watch, listen to] one genre of [books, shows, music] for the rest of your life, which would it be?
14. If you could publish a book on any subject, what would it be?
15. Let’s say you could invite any three people to dinner. Who would you ask and what are the reasons?
With this, we come to our conclusion.
Remember starting a good conversation doesn’t rely on just one approach. By experimenting with these conversation starters, you’ll be able to map out your own methods for starting a conversation that will be unique to you. No more “I never know what to talk about” moments.
Another thing to keep in mind is listening is a significant part of the conversation.
Ask questions and don’t let your shyness or social anxiety define your limits. With some practice, you’ll soon be a master at starting conversations.
Lastly, there is no “perfect line” to start a conversation because there’s no such thing as the perfect opener. It is you who can make any opener the best or the worst.