Beyond “How Are You”: The Best Conversation Starters

We’ve all had moments where we meet someone for the first time and we just can’t spark any meaningful dialogue besides “Oh, the weather is nice.” Weather talk is the universal signal of “I don’t know what to say.” Here are some things I’ve found helpful to untie the tongue and really get to know people.

1. Start a photo war. When the conversation stalls, challenge the group your in to que up the most interesting photo on their mobile phone. Before you know it, you’ll have plenty of fun dialogue.

2. Tell an interesting or funny story. It’s amazing what can come of a simple “Did you hear about…” Read the room and environment you’re in. Tailor your story to your audience. If the story is interesting enough, there is no telling where the conversation will go.

3. Ask open-ended questions. People love to talk about themselves. Open-ended questions give the respondent an opportunity to express themselves. On the flip side, yes and no questions end conversations quickly because of the limited amount of responses. Be minful of this when meeting new people. For example, instead of asking “Do you like movies?,” ask “What type of movies do you like?”

4. Use sensory words. Words like “imagine,” “feel,” “sense,” “see,” and “feel” evoke emotion and stimulate thought. When you’re in conversation, try to use these words as much as possible to direct your questions. Ask things like “Where do you see yourself in 5 years,” “How do you feel about the new theatre,” or “What is your sense of this football season.”

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