Did you know that public speaking is often rated the number one thing people are afraid of? But while getting up on a stage in front of an audience can definitely be nerve wracking, many people find striking up a conversation one-on-one just as intimidating.
Maybe it’s the CEO of your company, a new colleague, the guy in the mail room, the girl from IT, or a stranger in the street. Whomever you want to talk to, there’s a way to strike up a conversation. And the best news is that it gets easier with practice.
Try these conversation starters to talk to absolutely anybody:
- Skip the small talk. “What’s up with this weather?” and “How ‘bout them [insert local sports team]?” are as bad as cheesy pick-up lines when it comes to starting a conversation. Avoid tired topics. Every situation is unique, so you should be able to find a unique conversation starter.
- Ask for their opinion. Everyone has one! For someone you don’t know well, start with light subjects like the food, the music, the atmosphere, etc. “Do you like your Margaritas with salt or without? Do you watch horror movies? Do you like this song?” It’s probably best to stay away from really sticky subjects like politics unless you already know the person very well.
- Ask for their advice or recommendations. This works very well when commenting on someone’s outfit or accessories, as in “What a great tie! Where did you get it?” or on the food, as in, “Everything looks good. What are you having?”
- Ask them a question — that’s easy to answer. This is great when you know or find out that a person has expertise in a particular field. If you’re talking to your company’s IT guy, for example, you could ask him whether he’s the guy who installs hardware or software. But avoid asking anyone to explain something super complex or involved; if that’s where the conversation leads, great, but asking a really complicated question up front can feel demanding.
- Comment on the environment. No matter where you are, there are things to comment on: the music, the food, the lights, the guests, and so on. Even if you are stuck in an elevator with someone, you can comment on the music, the speed, the crowdedness, etc.
- Ask for an update. If you know someone a little or know them by reputation, ask for an update on something you know they’ve been doing, for example, “Oh, Mary mentioned you were taking swing dance classes. How’s that going?”
- Ask open-ended questions whenever possible. If your question can be answered with a simple yes or no, don’t be surprised if that’s what you get. Having follow-up questions ready can also help the conversation flow. If you are asking what kind of food they’re having, for example, you might follow up with, “That sounds good. Do you know what kind of wine would go well with that?” Almost everything can be followed up with, “Why?” (Just don’t ask it too many times and end up sounding like a three-year-old!)
- Ask a hypothetical question. These can be great conversation starters, but try to tie them into something happening at the event or in current events to avoid seeming too random. You might say something like, “I just saw this movie where all the laws were revoked for one day. What would you do if there were no laws for a day?”
- Ask about their kids, pets, or hobbies. People love to talk about the things that are important to them. If you know that your boss loves to sail, asking him about his latest trip is a surefire way to get him talking.
Now, take some example question to break ice:
What is an ice breaker anyway?
An ice breaker is ANYTHING that is said or done to break the tension between two people. The reason I say anything is because it can range from asking a question to walking around in a bunny costume.
For now, let’s scrap the bunny costume idea and focus on asking questions. Not just any questions though, fun and exciting questions that will not only get the other person engaged in the conversation but will make them open up to you so all the awkwardness goes away.
That sounds good right?
The reason I put together this guide is because tons of people have reached out to me asking HOW to start a conversation when they:
A.) Don’t know what to say
B.) Don’t know how to keep the conversation going
Is this something you’re having trouble with?
If so then this guide is definitely something you should check out. What I’ve done is outline three categories of questions that help relieve some of tension in a conversation because they dig into the other person’s favorite subject to talk about: themselves.
Why do people like to talk about themselves?
I know it may seem a little weird to say that but it’s true. Think about, what do you know more about in this world other than your own interests and experiences?
The reason why people like to talk about themselves is because it’s something they can speak confidently about. If someone asks me what my favorite movie is, I can talk about it in great length simply because it’s what I personally enjoy and there’s no wrong answer for it.
And that’s sort of what I’m leading into with this guide, the 20 ice breaker conversation starters are personal questions you can ask someone to get them to open up to you and to share things about themselves that will help you:
A.) Learn about their personality to see if they are someone you can be interested in
B.) Lead in to a deeper conversation so you can really extract a better understanding of who they REALLY are
Starting conversations is NOT easy to do, especially when it comes to talking to a complete stranger. But even if it’s someone you’re randomly approaching in the hallway at school, at a public park in your city or even a new co-worker at your job, these conversation starters will help you instantly build trust with them.
How do you know this will work?
The truth is, I don’t know if it will work 100% of the time. But what I do know is that learning how to start a conversation by asking the right kinds of questions will help you feel more relaxed around the stranger and it will help them feel more comfortable talking to you in general.
The reason I can say that is because I’ve been sharing advice on YouTube since 2011 and I have helped thousands of teens and young adults develop their confidence skills over the years. I consider myself a Motivational Speaker on YouTube where I help people learn how to be their best self.
My idea of developing your best self is practicing the skills of confidence, mindfulness and compassion with others. I don’t consider myself a dating coach or a dating guru. I’m not just trying to help you get a girlfriend or pick up chicks, I really want to help you explore what it means in your own ideas to be somebody great.
I think that together we can do that and it all starts with this guide. I hope it’s helpful in some way, I would love to hear your story after you’ve downloaded it, read it and tried out some of the conversation starters for yourself.
As always guys, love and peace.