The Fine Art of Small Talk

The Fine Art of Small Talk: How To Start a Conversation, Keep It Going, Build Networking Skills — and Leave a Positive Impression!

By Debra Fine

If you hate small talk–mostly because you aren't that good at it this book is for you. It's an easy read with practical advice that will help you have fewer awkward interactions and become a better conversationalist. Here are 3 lessons from it:

1) Why Small Talk Is A Big Deal

Small talk gets a bad rap but it serves a vital function. Without it, you rarely get to actual deep conversations.

Think of small talk as the icebreaker that clears the way for more intimate conversations and lays the foundation for stronger relationships.

People who excel at small talk are experts at making others feel included, valued, and comfortable–a skill that will help you succeed in your personal and professional life.

Mastering small talk will help you feel more at ease at networking events, parties, and big gatherings. It can also be used to transition into new topics, resuscitate a dying conversation, and basically make having conversations a fun and enjoyable experience.

2) The 2 Small Talk Commandments

If you want to become better at small talk, there are two rules you need to memorize and live by:

  1. Take the risk:

    In order to have a conversation, you need to take the risk of starting the conversation. You can't wait and hope for someone to approach you. We all fear rejection on some level, but the majority of the time the person will respond in a positive manner.

  2. Assume the burden:

    You also need to assume the burden of carrying and directing the conversation. It's up to us to come up with topics to discuss, remember their name, fill in awkward pauses, and gracefully exit the conversation. You can't expect every person you meet to be an extrovert or super chatty, you need to take on the responsibility of creating an enjoyable interaction.

Remember these two rules and you'll be a better conversationalist than 99% of people.

3) Icebreakers That Will Help You Talk To Anyone

Have you ever been to an event where you wanted to talk to someone but you didn't know how to break the ice?

If so, here are 10 helpful business and social icebreakers:

Business Icebreakers:

  1. What does a typical day look like for you?
  2. What got you started in this industry/career?
  3. What do you enjoy most about your profession?
  4. What are some coming trends in your industry?
  5. What's the coolest project you've ever worked on?
  6. What advice would you give someone just starting out in your business?
  7. What's the best job you've ever had?
  8. How has your business changed over time?
  9. What ways have you found to be most effective for promoting your business?
  10. How has social media impacted your industry?


Social Icebreakers:

  1. What do you spend most of your time on?
  2. What's your favorite movie/book?
  3. What's the coolest place you've traveled to?
  4. What's your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?
  5. What's it like in your home town?
  6. What's your favorite restaurant?
  7. What's your family/kids like?
  8. What's your favorite hobby?
  9. Who's your favorite artist/musician?
  10. What was your first car?


Take a screenshot of these icebreakers or save them in your notes app and you'll never draw a blank when it comes to starting a new conversation again.

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