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Good Conversation Starters - Topics To Enhance Your Skills

Updated on July 20, 2011

How To Start Conversations

Starting conversations can be tricky, especially when you're talking with someone who you do not know very well or just met. I'm not going to give you a list of things you can make small-talk about, because I know that's not necessary and not helpful. Good conversation starters aren't cliches or boring observations on scenery. In fact, at the end of this, I'm going to give you a pretty terrifying challenge, so I hope you're up for it, but first let's take a look at the concept of communication:

Whether you're a businessman looking to close a deal, or a boy trying to start a conversation with a girl, all communication follows the same basic principles. Let's explore how it all works and how we can find things to use when we're talking with others to enhance our ability to communicate.


What Is The Purpose Of Communication?

To know how to start and maintain a good conversation, we need to understand what the purpose of conversation is. People are very social creatures, and we communicate in a variety of ways. It's interesting to note that the majority of conversations do not even use words! These are called "non-verbal communications". If you send a signal to another person, and that signal is received, that is a communication. It's purpose is to transfer a thought or emotion. That is the basic purpose of any communication, and when you're trying to figure out what to say to someone, it helps to know what specifically you are trying to convey to them.

How To Start A Conversation

So, that's the first challenge: Decide what it is you want to get across.

Once you've decided upon what you're trying to convey to someone in that particular moment, you'll be ready to start your conversation in a way that aligns with this purpose. One thing you should be aware of is your body posture. That's going to be the real "conversation starter" when you think of it, because it's the first communication you'll be sending.

You want to convey with your body whatever emotion or thought you're trying to get across to the other person. Just focus on that emotion or thought, and you'll know how to express it best with your body.


How To Find A Topic Of Conversation

It's great to start a conversation, because this shows that you're confident and proactive, but many people aren't sure what to say and how to say it.

I could give you a long list of things to comment upon such as the weather, what the other person is wearing, the news, the scenery, the time, etc. That wouldn't be useful, because who needs a guide to point out obvious subjects of small-talk? Worse, It would be completely unremarkable, so I'm not going to do that. That's not what is going to help you to make an impression.

Small-Talk Free Topics

Instead of choosing your topics on whatever random things are about you, or whatever you heard or saw on the way to meeting someone, you can take a whole different approach. Earlier we looked at this idea of having something to convey, and being aware of what your message you are trying to send.

If you're meeting a new girl (or boy) for the first time and you really like them, what you're trying to convey is probably affection. If you're meeting a potential employer for the first time, you're likely trying to convey competence. If you're just getting together with a friend to hang out, you might be trying to convey enthusiasm at your plans. The great thing about this is, when you're comfortable with your environment and the situation, this all takes place naturally, and you don't need to put any attention on it to make it work. It's all on auto-pilot.

You probably realized this yourself, because it's unlikely you've ever wondered about what you're going to say or what topics or conversation starters you should use with one of your friends, who you already know.

When you're comfortable, you know exactly how to express yourself, and you just convey what it is you are thinking or feeling. You just put it out there, and that is genuine and so effortless you probably aren't aware you're doing it.

So, I'm going to ask you to be brave here, because I'm going to tell you a way to find your topic that's going to require courage.

Realize that if you're looking for things to say to "break the ice" or "get the conversation started", you're thinking about a conversation that you're not fully comfortable having to begin with. You're not operating with that same natural, genuine approach you would use with someone you knew well. The truth is, you already have a topic of conversation. You have that emotion or thought we talked about earlier, and if you could be totally comfortable, you'd just convey it directly. And, that's exactly what I'm going to suggest you do.


Be Direct - You Can Do It!

Instead of dancing around what you actually want to communicate to a person, just communicate it directly. It sure will make an impression and it will make you remarkable, plus you'll be surprised at just how easy this is once you get into the habit of doing it.

Start your conversations with that thought or emotion you want to convey. Just get it out there. Don't trickle it out. Just communicate it directly. Make your first words really count, by just telling that person why you're there. That makes sense doesn't it? Just say "I really like you.", or "I'm the one you want for this job". Go for it. Be direct. It doesn't need to be easy, but it will get easier the more you practice.

I know you might think you need to "warm up" before you get to your point, or that being subtle is going to give you better results, but I'd challenge you to try this approach and see what it does for you.

If you're thinking this just isn't for you, I want you to realize something. You weren't looking for ways to "respond to a conversation". You were looking for tips on how to start one. Well, you're pretty proactive then! And if you're proactive enough to want to start conversations, you've got what it takes to be direct about what you want to communicate!

Go ahead, and be brave. If there's one thing that will make the world a better place, it's people being more direct with others. Besides, aren't you tired of talking about the weather?


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    • Lucky Cats profile image


      8 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Excellent advice...I really like it! "Just do it!" I think I'll try that next time I'm meeting someone new. A self dare, if you will...I think it will be great fun just to let it out and go for it...see what happens! Up Useful Interesting....and Thank you.

    • ournote2self profile image


      8 years ago

      Great tips. I'm one of those people that have a tough time thinking about things to talk about with someone I don't know very well. Hopefully some of these tips will help with that. Thanks!

    • Bud Gallant profile imageAUTHOR

      Bud Gallant 

      8 years ago from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

      Bard of Ely, Thank you very much for the kind words. I can definitely understand what you're saying here. I still have moments where I feel quite shy or nervous, as well, although I;d like to think I've become good at concealing it! I'm sure the language issue can complicate matters. I wasn't aware you were living in such an exotic area!

    • Bard of Ely profile image

      Steve Andrews 

      8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Excellent advice and I am voting up and tagging this as useful! As a singer and writer I am very good at those types of communication but hopeless with making small talk and very shy. I often find myself at bus stops with other people and apart from saying hello I get stuck. It is made worse where I am because my Spanish is very basic and most of the people here are native speakers and often know little or no English. I need to be more direct and brave about starting conversations!

    • Bud Gallant profile imageAUTHOR

      Bud Gallant 

      8 years ago from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

      Temirah, Thank you. Of course that would be great. I'm looking forward to reading your hub! I'll be there as soon as I finish up some replies. :)

      Movie Master, Awesome. That is so great. I'm working on the same thing myself! Thanks for the comment.

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 

      8 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Bud, you're right I'm tired of talking about the weather, I'll try the challenge and attempt to being more'direct and brave!!' sound advice and a well written hub thank you.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I like this - very useful - I'm hopless at making conversation. I'd love to link this hub to mine on conversation if that's ok.

    • Bud Gallant profile imageAUTHOR

      Bud Gallant 

      8 years ago from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada


      Thanks! It's funny, because I found myself in an elevator today, talking about the weather and I remembered this hub, and was like "Damn it! Fail". In a lot of situations, the whole small-talk thing does seem natural, but I'm convinced it's not the way to go when you've got a particular purpose for talking. I think saying what you're thinking is a good habit. It might seem dangerous, but I suspect it's just an easier, more genuine way to live your life. :)

      P.S. In my defense, the weather is unusually hot today, so I blame heatstroke on my momentary lapse of principle. :p

    • Jennuhlee profile image


      8 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Very well written, great advice. Awesome hub as always. I love it, couldn't agree more, the best way to get through to someone is to be direct. I always say just what I'm thinking. Great hub:] Great Topic:]

    • Bud Gallant profile imageAUTHOR

      Bud Gallant 

      8 years ago from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

      Ann and WiseWays, thanks!

      Josh, Yeah, I wanted to take it in a different direction. There's a ton of articles that list smalltalk subjects, and I just don't feel that's the way to go. Thank you!

      Denise, I know exactly what you mean. I used to be pretty shy myself. After a couple of years of call center work and talking to thousands of people, it became a lot easier.

      SubRon, True! I remember reading that tale. Call me crazy, but I have a feeling you're going to run into her again!

    • SubRon7 profile image

      James W. Nelson 

      8 years ago from eastern North Dakota

      Don't dance around what you "want" to say, just say it. I could have used that advice a few days ago when I met a woman I had met first a year ago...but I don't know if my confidence would have allowed me to "take" your advice. We were talking, and she seemed responsive to continue talking, but my mind went blank.... I hope I will get another chance with her. Unfortunately I don't know her last name or any other personal thing about her, but, thanks for the tip, Bud.

    • WiseWays profile image


      8 years ago

      Good hub, thanks.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Great hub, Bud. I used to hate to start conversations. I had no confidence, was tongue tied and shy in social situations. You would never guess that now! You have very useful info in a well organized format. Thanks.

    • .josh. profile image


      8 years ago

      Another well written hub, Bud. Very logical, and I love that you didn't focus on a bunch of cliché-ridden conversation starters. Good work.

    • annmackiemiller profile image


      8 years ago from Bingley Yorkshire England

      well put


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