The Art of Small Talk
It is summer and the social calendar is booked with all kinds of activities! Whether you are attending a business event or a personal BBQ, you will be in face-to-face situations where you will need to strike up a conversation. This prospect strikes fear in many people. I often hear that people say they “dread small talk.” That they “just can’t get started.” That is is “meaningless.” I argue that none of the above needs to be the case. Here are a few steps for smoothing out the distaste for striking up conversations:
- Approach an individual or a group of 3 people and introduce yourself. It is easier to break into groups of odd numbers.
- Prepare 3 topics to talk about before you arrive so that you have them ready to use “on the fly.”
- Prepare 4 event-related or business-related open-ended questions that get people talking.
- Be the first to say ‘Hello’ to someone.
- Avoid negative or controversial topics.
- Avoid religion and politics.
- Introduce new people you meet by name to others at the event and mention information about the person to help transition to conversation.
- Repeat the names of the people you meet.
The best thing about small talk? It potentially leads to BIG talk that builds meaningful relationships.