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Small Talk Cheat Sheet

It happens to everyone. You don’t know what to say after talking about the weather.

Don’t dwell on the negative – “I hate small talk. When can I go home and watch tv?” Be purposeful. Small talk helps to build the foundation for authentic conversation and possibly a deeper relationship or connection down the road. All personal and professional relationships have got to start somewhere. Start simple to not scare them away. Try making your question two parts so it’s open-ended.

15 Small Talk Openers for Events, Work, Acquaintances & Ideas

  • Have you attended this event before? What did you think of today’s presentation?

  • (At an event) What brought you here? What are you looking forward to?

  • You’re so knowledgeable on this stuff. I’d love to hear your thoughts on [event, announcement, major change].

  • How are things going with your business or with work? What’s the busiest time of the year for you?

  • What do you do? How did you get interested in doing that?

  • Do you have a far commute home? What do you like to do on your commute?

  • What’s new since the last time I saw you? Have you had any fun lately?

  • How’s the family? What activities are your kids doing now?

  • I love your (necklace, top, shoes, bag). Where did you get it?

  • How is your summer going? Have any vacations planned?

  • Where are you from? What is your hometown like?

  • Are you reading any good books right now? I’d love some recommendations. How about shows?

  • I love podcasts. Do you listen to them? Do you have any favorite podcasts that you can recommend?

  • I’m planning a birthday dinner. Any great recommendations?

  • I love (“staying in” or “going out”). Do you like staying in or going out better? What do you like to do for fun?

How to End a Conversation

Here are eight potential exit lines:

  • I’m going to go grab [some food, a drink]. Great to [meet you, see you, catch up].

  • I see my [friend, coworker, client] over there and should probably go say hi. Want to exchange contact info?

  • This has been great -- thanks for telling me about X. Do you have a card?

  • Can’t wait to hear how [initiative, project, personal decision] goes! Let’s catch up at the next [work party, conference, meeting, get-together].

  • The next session is starting soon, so I’m going to go find my room. It was nice meeting you!

  • Excuse me, I’m going to use the restroom. Enjoy the rest of the [event, party, conference].

  • So glad we got the chance to connect. I don’t want to take up your [morning, afternoon, night] -- I’m going to [check out the snacks, say hello to someone, take a walk around the venue, etc.]



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