Six small talk tips to help you in any social situation…
Making conversation with others can be incredibly daunting and even a source of anxiety for some people. Whether you’re shy, introverted or struggle with social anxiety, we hope these pointers help you feel more comfortable during conversations.
- Ask Thoughtful Questions
If you find your conversation stalling or coming to an uncomfortable pause, try asking a question that requires a more detailed answer. Asking something like “why did you visit there?” or “How did that make you feel?” will open the door to a more thorough response, giving you valuable time to gather your thoughts, as well as more opportunities to branch off into new areas of conversation.
- Pay A Compliment
Giving someone a compliment is a good way to initiate small talk. You might say, “Oh, I love your earrings!” and follow-up with, “Where did you get them?” to drive the conversation forward.
- Practice On Strangers
If you have an event or party coming up where you know you’ll be expected to talk and mingle, you might be experiencing feelings of anxiety and apprehension. Practicing your small talk skills on strangers can help you feel more relaxed and confident in your conversational abilities.
Try striking up a conversation with a waiter when you’re out for a meal. You might say something along the lines of, “There’s so much to choose from! What would you recommend?” when they arrive to take your order. Or you could stop for a second to chat to a neighbour you haven’t spoken to before – comment on the weather, ask them if they have anything nice planned for the day… that kind of thing. As you continue to build on your small talk experience, you’ll begin to feel more and more comfortable with informal chatting.
- Topic Cards
Some people find topic cards helpful. These are cards with simple conversation starter questions and prompts written on them. If you’re ever in a situation where you feel completely overwhelmed or are struggling to find words, these helpful cards can be a lifesaver. You can read and memorise a few before heading out or keep them in your bag for emergencies.
Search ‘Topic Cards for Conversation’ online to find free printables or use some of the below questions and make your own:
- How did you become a [insert job title here]?
- Have you seen [insert show or film you’ve watched here]?
- Have you read any good books recently?
- Who is your favourite influencer/movie star/musician?
- What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?
- If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
- Wear A Conversation Piece
Your clothes or accessories can be a great way to start a conversation! People may be curious and admiring of your hand-painted Nike trainers or the colourful scarf wound in your hair and want to ask you questions about them. You can literally use your own style and uniqueness to ignite a conversation!
- Expand Your Own Answers
Try to go into more detail when you’re answering a question, rather than simply say “yes” or “no”, which can halt a conversation in its tracks. Giving more information also gives the person you’re talking to more opportunity to respond or to take the conversation off in a new direction, helping things flow more naturally.
Someone asks you if you enjoyed a particular film. Rather than simply saying, “Yes, I enjoyed that one!” you could say something along the lines of, “Yes, I enjoyed that one because I’m a huge fan of [insert actor’s name here]. I really liked the scene where [describe scene]. What was your favourite scene?”