Good conversation starters put people at ease immediately. That is how all good conversations start – when people feel comfortable and relaxed. To start a conversation like that is a skill – and you can learn it.
Starting a conversation is often the most difficult part of all. Once you are over the first few sentences, the talk usually flows. But how can you get the conversation started?
Ideally, find a subject that interests the person you are talking to. That means they will want to reply to you and it will get the conversation flowing. Questions are good for that, so long as you do not sound like you are an interrogator.
Open questions are great conversation starters as they cannot be answered just with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Or you can make a comment. If you get the comment right, it will get you a good response. The right opener is important and having a few starters ready for any situation is always a good idea.
Here are ten great conversation starters:
1. Compliment them on their clothing or appearance. Everyone likes to be admired. Also, when they tell you where they got an item of clothing or that they just had their hair cut, that gives you something else you can talk about and away you go!
Ask then why they like the store they got the clothing you admired, and where else they like to shop. It might even get you a further meeting to go shopping with them.
2. Ask their opinion on something light like what they think to the wine the two of you are drinking, etc. It will feel like you are interested in them, but will not feel like you are judging them. For that reason, steer clear of loaded topics like religion and politics.
If you find they have a favorite topic – ask them lots of questions about it. People love to talk – preferably about themselves! If you give them a chance to do that, you will have quite an easy time of it – and still be seen as a great conversationalist.
3. Find out the person’s name – and use it. Use it early on and use it often. You will be viewed as caring and thoughtful.
4. Start with the obvious. What strikes you as most obvious at this minute? Questions like ‘so how do you know [host]?’ are always easy and good starters.
You could also ask ‘have you taken these classes before?’Yes – I know that is a closed question, but it may well encourage more conversation from the other person, since they are probably interested in the classes and have an opinion on them.
If you are in a home, comment on a picture or an ornament – all you are trying to do is break the ice and make sure the silence ends. After that, it gets easier.
5. If you have met the person before, but you are not quite sure what to say to them now, you could always ask what they did at the weekend. Even if they say they did not do much, that can lead you into sympathizing about the horrible weather that kept you in, or small talk about the TV.
6. If there is a big news story around at the moment, ask if they caught the news. If they say no, you can say something like ‘Oh, I was just wondering what happened about…”
7. Have you met the person before? Perhaps you recall them saying that they were having a holiday or birthday. Ask how it went.
8. Latch on to the time of year. If it is close to Christmas, for instance, ask how it went or how their preparations are going.
9. Have you been to [a local restaurant]? That is a good one as most people are interested in eating.
10. What kind of music to listen to? That one is particularly easy to slip in if there is music playing where you are.
Those are ten ideas to get you started, but the key is just to get on and say something. Make it small and make it light. Good conversation starters are only as good as the response they get, so make sure whatever you say it is easy to reply to.