16 Tips for An Interesting and Engaging Small Talk

One of the helpful skills you can learn to connect is to comfortably engage in small talks. This simple gesture can even lead to building a relationship with the people you converse with may it be professional or personal. Although small talk can be a challenge for some, it can definitely be learned and developed. Here are some tips that you can use to have a small casual conversation with anyone. 


1. Initiate to say a friendly greeting

Greeting someone reflects interest and being friendly with other people. Be the first to introduce yourself to people you don’t know and be the first to greet people you already know. Smile when you approach them to look amiable and make them feel more comfortable.

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2. Tell your name

Introduce yourself to people you don’t know, then ask their name. Meanwhile, reintroduce yourself and mention where you have met to those you’ve already met once. This will prevent them from being confused and have difficulty trying to figure out where they have seen you. Some people are not so good at remembering names.

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3. Remember your conversation partner’s name

Although occasionally you may find yourself forget the name of the person you are talking with, do your best to remember it. If you think you haven’t gotten his name correctly, you can ask it again. Repeat his name a couple of times during the conversation to remember. Addressing him using his name, sounds more friendly, and not strangers to each other. It also shows him that you recognize him.

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4. Introduce people to engage others in the small talk

A good conversationalist knows how to engage everyone in the talk and make sure that no one is left out. Try to include others by inviting them into the conversation. Introduce yourself and your small talk partner first to that person you want to engage in the conversation. By doing this you’ll be able to get multiple people involved in the small talk and much interaction and details will be shared. 

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5. Find for common interests

Look for you some commonality that can help you and your conversation partner to bond over. Share experiences or interests that you think the other person can relate to. It may be something that both of you obviously deal with. By having a common ground, you’ll be able to establish a connection and keep the conversation flowing. If you are at an event, look for anything interesting around. This will be easier if you pay attention and be observant of what surrounds you.

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6. Prepare some questions and topics in advance

Assess yourself and think about the topics that are easier for you to talk about. Come up with at least three topics that you are very familiar with and another three subjects that you are interested in knowing more about. If you have different topics to share, it will help you to easily find a subject that will click on the other person. Sometimes, people don’t respond not because they are not open to talking with you. Sometimes they can’t just relate to the topic. It would also be helpful if you get your questions prepared, so you can throw out these questions when you have the chance to engage in small talk. 

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7. Keep the conversation light and positive

To have a good small conversation, keep things light, fun, and positive. If you are light to talk with and easy to laugh, people would enjoy talking with you. You can also keep the conversation fun by asking interesting hypothetical questions about weird situations and what would they do if faced with that situation. By making your small conversation light, they will be relaxed, comfortable, and enjoy the interaction. Remember that small conversation is usually not the best time to instruct someone or talk about something really serious

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8. Avoid sensitive topics

Keep your subject appropriate by avoiding topics about politics, religion, and controversies. These kinds of topics may put your small talk partner uncomfortable or may lead to lengthy discussions and heated conversations. Avoid gossip, offensive jokes, and personal questions. Moreover, refrain from sharing topics that are personal in nature such as your personal relationships and issues. Oversharing is not recommended especially for people you don’t know you very well. These topics may cause a negative impression on you and people may be turned off on you. Always remember to match your subject with your audience. Think before you speak and be careful about giving negative remarks, nor making any complaint. Casual conversation is not meant for rants. If you do, you will appear as if you are hard to please or mean. Meanwhile, being careful of what you say makes you appear thoughtful. Opt to discuss general interest subjects like food, travel, hobbies, weather, sport, movies, and books. Choosing these subjects show that you are approachable, friendly, interesting and someone who enjoys life.

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9. Use English during your casual conversations

If you are talking with a different nationality, or in a different country, it is helpful if you can speak in English while conversing with others. This will help your small talk partner to easily understand you. You can also speak in English with someone who can engage in an English conversation to enable you and your conversation partner to practice your English speaking skills. 

Express yourself clearly and easily by learning and practicing the English language. LingualBox offers courses such as Useful Expressions and other courses that will help you be a better conversationalist.

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10. Ask questions to focus on your conversation partner

A good conversationalist knows that it is important to make the person they are speaking with, talk about themselves. They understand that it’s not just about them. While it is tempting to show your knowledge, know how much you can talk about yourself. When asked with questions, keep your responses brief then let the other person talk again. You can avoid oversharing about yourself if you also throw out questions about the other person. By doing this, you will not only be able to engage your small talk partner in the conversation, but you will also get to know him more. Focusing on your speaking partner and asking them questions will show that you have a genuine interest in them. 

Furthermore, remember that the subject you enjoy talking about may not be the same for others. Hence its always best not to assume that someone will be interested in your preferred topic. When you start talking or asking questions about a topic, gauge if it’s interesting enough to your speaking partner and observe the conversation flow. 

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11. Add some details to your replies

Conversations are two way, hence part of it is also sharing about yourself at a certain point. When responding, refrain from giving one-word closed answers as this might cut the conversation short. Show that you are interested to talk by adding details to your responses. You can share something a bit personal about yourself if you and your small talk partner have become comfortable. However, be mindful that you refrain from oversharing and talking about topics that are too personal. By expanding your answers, you give your conversation partner a reference point to make some comments or ask a question. This will keep both of you talking, ergo, the conversation keeps going.

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12. Find a balance between asking question and statement

Match your response to how your small talk partner reacts. This will determine if you need to follow up with a question, give a statement, or strike a joke. If you opted to ask questions, make sure your conversation partner does not feel interrogated by throwing out too many questions. This can make him annoyed and uncomfortable. Meanwhile, if you are going to comment make sure that it is still interesting to the other person and relevant to the conversation topic. Make your responses brief and stop yourself from oversharing to give him a chance to ask about you. If you feel like you are dominating the conversation, slow down, and let the other person talk. If you are too talkative, your speaking partner might eventually begin to lose interest. Know when to talk and when it’s best to remain silent to listen.

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13. Give sincere compliments when appropriate

During the conversation, if you’ve noticed something that you can genuinely compliment about your speaking partner, tell them. Finding something good about the person you are talking to is possible if you focus on them. It could be their clothes or accessory. You can follow up the compliment by asking a question related to it to make it less awkward. Don’t hesitate about giving compliments as it is always well received. Almost everyone likes a compliment. Just make sure that is a sincere one. Giving compliments reflects that you are engaged and interested in your speaking partner as you were able to notice something in him. This helps in breaking the ice, if there is any, as your small talk partner feels appreciated thus more at ease during the conversation. 

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15. Read verbal and non-verbal cues

Pay attention to verbal and non-verbal cues. If your small talk partner seems uneasy, the topic may be uncomfortable for them. Meanwhile, if they start to become fidgety or unengaged, then it’s probably time to change to another topic or end the conversation. However, if you notice that they enjoy talking and enthusiastically share their ideas, then you can stick to it. Learn to understand cues and respond appropriately.

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14. Deal with silence appropriately

Sometimes, a person can remain silent not because they don’t want to engage in the conversation but because they are thinking about what to say next, or still absorbing what you have told them. Hence, at times, trying to talk to fill the silence may not be the best move. For such instances, it’s better to allow some time. If you notice that the silence is longer than it should be then that’s the time to break the silence. You can ask a question, comment on something, or change the subject. However, if they remain silent, or would respond with one word then return to being quiet, this may mean that they are no longer interested to talk, so it might be better to end the conversation.

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16. End the conversation gracefully

When you notice that the conversation is starting to naturally dry up or slow down and your conversation partner starts to respond with shorter answers then it’s time to wrap it up. Bid them goodbye nicely. Don’t just leave abruptly or make them feel as if you got bored talking to them. To gracefully end a conversation, excuse yourself courteously. 

Starting a small talk comfortably will eventually be natural to you if you keep on practicing it. Show that you are open and welcoming anytime an opportunity for a small conversation presents itself. You might be surprised how far a simple small talk can go. Put the guidelines above into practice and your conversation partner will be delighted to talk to you again the next time. 

Learn to talk using the English language with ease during small talk. Start practicing now with LingualBox.


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Kaycie Gayle is a freelance content writer and a digital publisher. Her writings are mostly about, travel, culture, people, food, and communication.