Internet Self Improvement

Rock The Small Talk: 3 Fun Ways To Pick Up Cool Conversation Starters

Tina Sieber 17-03-2014

Small talk is a way to break the ice. Everyone’s got something to say about the weather. But if you want to engage people in a conversation for more than a few seconds, you need to follow up with something more interesting, something they care about. In addition to the tips below, make sure you aren’t making these common mistakes to make during a conversation.

Strategy For Starting A Conversation

When you chat someone up, start with a very simple topic. This could be a comment on the notorious weather or your surrounding. Is there something to say about the venue, the other people in the room, the music, the food, or the occasion? Your starter depends on the situation you’re in. And ideally it’s not just a random comment, but a question; an open-ended one that cannot be answered with a yes or a no.


Your goal is to get a response; it will tell you a little more about the person. Watch for cues in their answer! What’s their mood, do they even care to talk, what could they be interested in? When you have their attention, follow up with harmless questions or potential conversation starters until you have an idea where to take the conversation. Now if you really get them hooked, allow them to take the lead and go with the flow; you might learn something new.

If they let you steer the conversation, direct it to a topic you think they will care about and that you know a lot about. Here are some interesting topics and ways to pick them up.

Read, Read, Read

And read about subjects you care about, otherwise you won’t retain any of the information. Whatever you care about, is worth sharing. Chances are you’ll run into someone interested in the same things you are; maybe they just haven’t heard of them, yet. Enlightening them counts as a good deed. Since I don’t know you, I can’t tell you what to read. But I can tell you a little about where and how to read beyond books.

First stop: Wikipedia. The user-curated online encyclopedia can help you get a broad overview of a topic, pick up information, and find further resources, such as books or websites. Reading Wikipedia is a fantastic way to discover a topic and learn all about it 7 Ways To Learn Something New Every Day With Wikipedia Wikipedia is packed full of content. At the time of writing there are over 4 million articles contained within the English language version, with more being added all the time. All of these pages are... Read More . But Wikipedia is not the only place where great reading can be done online Too Long But Do Read: 6 Places To Go To For Some Of The Best Reading On The Web TLDR is now an accepted part of Internet slang. Too Long Didn't Read is symptomatic of our attention spans…or rather lack of it. But there's a subtle shift that's happening beneath the layers of the... Read More ; you’ll discover more.

Wikipedia Frontpage

When you start reading, you will quickly reach your capacity. Instead of bookmarking pages, save them to read later 5 Better Alternatives to Pocket That Bookmark Anything for Later Pocket has long held the crown of being the internet's best digital bookmarking service. But is it time to scrap it and search for better read-it-later bookmarking alternatives? Read More using apps and tools that sync between devices, such as Evernote, Readability [Broken URL Removed], or Instapaper.

Do you have a Kindle? You can use it to read books and magazines, and you can save websites to read later on your Kindle How to Send Websites to Kindle so You Can Read Later The Amazon Kindle isn't just limited to reading ebooks. Here's how to send and read web articles on your Kindle. Read More too. Since I mentioned them, magazines are a great way to pick up interesting topics. You can read magazines on your Android How To Read Magazines On Your Android Phone Or Tablet I love reading. Given the amount of research I find myself doing here at MakeUseOf that’s not a bad thing, but recently I’ve found my office space becoming encroached with more and more magazines. The... Read More or you can subscribe to magazines on your iPad 4 Apps To Read Magazines On Your iPad I know, MakeUseOf provides you with more than enough quality reading material, but what if you're after something other than fantastic technology tutorials and app reviews? I think we all have those moments of thinking... Read More . If you have discovered websites you would like to subscribe to, you’ll have to learn more about RSS readers Too Many RSS Feeds? Use These Tools To Make Reading Easier Many RSS users complain of information overload with too many RSS feeds cluttering their inbox. Fortunately, a number of RSS organization tools can tame even the wildest of feed collections. Go ahead -- declutter your... Read More .

Watch TED Videos

TED provides a constant stream of awesomeness. Just pick a topic that sounds interesting to you, soak up the information presented in the talk, read more about it (see above), and you’ll have a pool of knowledge to draw from. On TED, you can learn more with annotated reading lists from a few speakers. Then, you can always discuss your favorite topics by joining conversations around them.

TED Reading List

If you can extract information other people care about, you essentially possess a resource for magnificent conversation starters.

Or you could write articles, like we have done. Motivation and mental blocks 10 Motivational TED Talks To Help You Chip Away At Your Mental Blocks The valuable lesson from the lives of achievers is that they chip away at their mental blocks more consistently than others. Ten TED Talks underscore one simple thing – it’s all in the mind. Read More are a much discussed topic, because people love to learn how they can improve their lives and themselves. Relationships 4 TED Talks To Revolutionize Your Social Relationships The best TED Talks are the ones that plant seeds in your heart, which later grow into life-altering changes. These videos provide insights into social psychology and give you some food for thought. Read More are another hot topic because we all have to deal with them. To discover great topics, learn how to use TED Discover, Download, and Watch the Best of TED Whether it's about passing the time, broadening your horizons, or keeping up with your favorite topics, TED's library of videos is an invaluable tool for anyone who has access to a decent Internet connection. With... Read More , and find recommended videos and playlists.

Subscribe To Interesting YouTube Channels

When it comes to wasting time, YouTube is a big offender. But if you approach YouTube with a quest, you can circumnavigate randomness. Let your quest be topics you want to learn more about.

We have previously compiled the best YouTube channels for car lovers The 12 Best YouTube Channels for Car Nuts YouTube is brimming with excellent and informative automotive channels. Here are the best YouTube channels for car nuts. Read More , here is a selection of channels to make you laugh and learn YouTube Channels That Will Make You Laugh And Learn At The Same Time While the video sharing site might be better known for music videos, the Annoying Orange and, let’s face it, for being the cesspool of Internet comments, there are quite a few entertaining, educational videos that... Read More , and you cannot miss these if you enjoy science 10 Science YouTube Channels You Can't Miss The word science essentially means knowledge, and it is this quest for learning and understanding that has driven mankind to the height of its power. The Web offers ample opportunity to disperse that knowledge to... Read More .

Now to avoid getting distracted by the YouTube sidebar, add your favorite channels or playlists to VLC How to Watch Entire YouTube Playlists in VLC Do you love YouTube playlists, but wish you could watch them outside your browser? You can use VLC for the job, thanks to a simple extension. Here’s how. Read More .

Would You Subscribe To Yourself?

Finally, here is the secret to small talk, breaking the ice, and starting a conversation: it’s all about being curious, interested, and unique. Be curious about things, be interested in others, and share with them something they will be interested in.

Do you have a strategy for starting conversations? What are your favorite topics?

Image Credit: FHKE via Flickr, Conversation by Sharon Mollerus via Flickr

Related topics: TED Talks, Wikipedia, YouTube.

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  1. Sean
    March 17, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    This article isn't about creating small talk, it's about watching videos on the internet and bookmarking. Neither of which is very helpful. What about examples of interesting conversation starters, strategies and philosophies about conversation? At the very least mention Toast Masters.