Starting a great conversation can be very tricky. Especially if you’re talking with a stranger. Additionally, when you want to get to know someone better, you need to get them talking about themselves. Or if you’re meeting someone for the first time, having some good conversation starters at hand can help to break the ice and ensure that you both have a great time.
Good conversation starters should engage the other person. Think about yourself, if somebody asks you a fascinating question, you’ll want to answer it. Those exciting questions and answers lead to more extended and, perhaps, deeper conversational topics. And can form a strong relationship.
How to start a conversation
Before you attempt to begin a conversation, here are some tips and tricks:
- Take a deep breath and relax. Remember that people talk to each other all the time. Most conversations come naturally after the first few sentences.
- Let go of your fears. Don’t worry about being boring or saying something stupid. Just begin talking. Everything else will follow.
- Introduce yourself. Be polite and respectful. Depending on the situation, you may also tell them your full name. And if they don’t tell you theirs, ask what their name is.
Another great tip when you start a conversation: It absolutely helps to build a discussion on something the person likes or you have in common. So choose your conversation topic with care.
Add a touch of personality and intimacy by saying the other person’s name occasionally throughout the conversation. Use questions and respond to what your listener says appropriately. Remember to also consider the time and place. You probably don’t want to use a funny conversation starter if you are at a funeral or after a sad movie.
Choose your conversational topics
- Use current events. If you know of something that happened recently that most people are talking about, ask the other person what they think about the story. Just be careful not to discuss anything too controversial. Especially if you don’t know the person well.
- Use the listeners’ favorites. If you know something, the other person enjoys, that is always a good conversation starter. We all love to talk about what we like, whether it is a hobby, a pet, or our family.
- Talk about your favorites. If there’s something you really love, you will find it easy to talk about it with someone else. Sometimes your listener may want to just listen to you speak for a while, and your enthusiasm about what you love may encourage them to open up and talk.
Say the other person’s name
Doing so helps you remember the person’s name and often puts them at ease. It also adds a sense of intimacy, so it is an excellent tool to use when talking about personal subjects.
Try asking an open-ended question
Open-ended questions are the secret for a great conversation. Those can’t be answered with a simple “Yes” or “No”. Simple follow-up questions like “why”, “what” or “when” can cause the person to deep dive into a great ongoing conversation and cause them to elaborate on their thoughts, feelings, and opinions.
Elicit a response to your comment
Talk about something that is of interest to you, and then ask a question related to what you said.
For example, share the title of your favorite movie, then ask the name of theirs.
Answer a question with a follow-up question
When a person seems hesitant to talk about him or herself, they may ask you several questions. You can deflect those with your own questions.
For example, if they ask, “What did you think of the music awards the other night?” you could respond with, “What did you think?”
Use words that appeal to the senses
Words such as “feel,” “appear,” and “hear” encourage your listener to not only pay attention but also remember your conversation. Describe colors, sounds, tastes, and feelings to paint a visual picture of a place or event.
Smile and laugh when someone is funny. Use facial expressions to show gratitude, understanding, and curiosity as appropriate for the conversation’s content.
Conversation starters for any situation
Choose from our list of great conversation starters: