How to Make Small Talk

Nice to meet you! How much money do you make?

Does this sound like you? 

Hopefully not!

When you’re meeting someone for the first time, you can’t just jump into the BIG questions!

You have to start small … with small talk!

What Is Small Talk?

Small talk is a friendly conversation between people who have just met or don’t know each other very well. Love it or hate it, it’s an important and useful social skill. 

Let’s discuss a couple of ways small talk is used in social situations.

To Get to Know Someone

When you want to know someone better, small talk is the way to go! It’s a polite way to show interest in someone and find out who they are. It’s also your chance to show a little bit about who you are.  

To Be Polite

Small talk isn’t only for people who want to know each other better—sometimes, it’s just about good manners! Whether it’s a salesperson in a store, someone you’ve just met at a party, or a coworker in your office, you should try to make a little friendly conversation. Ignoring or showing little interest in someone is seen as rude.

How Do You Make Small Talk?

It can be scary and stressful to start a conversation with someone you don’t know.

But there’s something that’s even worse—a long, uncomfortable silence!

Build your skills using these tips and you’ll never have to worry again!

Ask Questions

Asking questions is a great way to start a conversation. It shows you want to learn about the person you’re speaking to. Don’t get too personal, though! Try asking about things like hobbies, interests, or plans.

When you ask questions, make sure to listen to the answers! By paying attention, you’ll be able to think of follow-up questions to ask, which will keep the conversation going.

Find Things in Common

An easy way to have an enjoyable conversation with someone is to talk about things you have in common. What you have in common might be obvious, or you might have to ask a few questions to figure it out.

Talking to someone at a party? Chat about the other guests—you might know the same people. Want to be friends with someone in your English class?  Ask their opinion on the topic you’re studying. On a first date? Maybe you’ve traveled to the same country or love the same foods. 

It may take some work, but once you find something in common, the conversation will flow!

Make Observations

When you’re really not sure what to talk about, try commenting on whatever is happening around you. If you see two birds fighting over a french fry, point it out! If it’s an unusually hot day, mention it! Making observations will help you break the ice

Discuss Universal Topics

A universal topic is something that most people know something about, such as big news stories, the weather, celebrities, or sports. 

But be careful with the topics you choose! If you start talking about a sensitive news story, for example, you might offend or upset the other person. In that case, your small talk might end before it even begins!

This brings us to our final point …

Keep It Light

A good rule for making small talk is that the topics shouldn’t be too serious. Until you know someone better, you should avoid topics such as money, religion, age, health issues, politics, and controversial news stories.


Knowing how to chat with someone you don’t know is an important skill. By asking questions, finding things in common, making observations, and talking about universal topics, you’ll be a small-talk superstar!

Andrea is a Gabby Academy coach and education technolgy writer based in Vancouver, Canada.