How to Engage in Small Talk?

Have you ever encountered an embarrassing incident where others are taking about a new topic and you are somehow lost and say something else? When other people are talking, you instantly think of a story you want to share. The problem is, someone else talks about something that changes the conversation to a completely new topic. You catch no ball at all.

My advice, go with the flow first, if you are new to this group of people. If you want to share something and the time has passed, you can shrug it off and keep up with the current direction of conversation. You will get a chance to bring it back later when you get closer with them.

When you see them again later, perhaps in a new group, you can remember the point, and to bring it up for discussion. For example, you could say, "Remember I was talking about travelling just down? I didn't get a chance to share this but I tried it last month. What an experience!"

You can use a "missed" story to kick start a future conversation if you do it right. I share with you the 5 techniques. It helps you in your networking be it in your personal life or at business function.

1.     Missing Out on "Big Talk" Opportunities

The whole point of small talk is to find a possible "in" toward deeper conversation. The art of small talk involves listening and recognizing clues toward opportunities that get into a topic more intensely. Some people enjoy mentioning small talk subjects, even when it's clear that their new friend wants to chat more about a specific subject. Remember, small talk is about looking for clues that can lead you somewhere else conversationally.

2.     Talking Too Much

Objective of small talk: to figure out what you have in common with someone else. If you spend the entire time talking about yourself, you are going to lose out the chance to establish a connection with a possible new friend. Worst still, you may just turn the person off altogether. Remember to keep it short and to look for possible negative body language (e.g. looking somewhere else, keep looking at their watch).

3.     Share Political or Religious Opinions

I am not instigating any political or religion riot. Do not get me wrong. One of the best parts of friendship is finding out what makes your new friends click and that includes their opinions. You need not violently object what they say but to estimate their comfort level in these topics. If someone is strongly against something be it politics or religion, respect their view. You know how to avoid the topic or perhaps start looking for new friends that click with your same topic and opinion.


4.     Update Yourself with News

People use items in the news as a way to start chatting with another person. The recent earthquakes in Taiwan, the post budget dialogue or simply a fatal accident that trigger any outburst are some small talk to begin with. Browse through some of your favorite news sites such as Yahoo, MSN or facebook for some news.

You can say, "I saw it on the news today but I didn't get a chance to read the whole story. What's happening?" This allows them to share their knowledge with you. Gradually, they feel closer to you and your chances for establishing a bond increases.

5.     Silence Mode

Some small talks may end up in silent mode. When this happens, be quick to create a new topic and to bring up the excitement. If you sense someone not interested in serious stuff (e.g. economic issues or political issues), pick something light to divert his attention such as new hangout place, or some funny encounter. This brings up the conversation. Do not criticize your own boss or spouse as a way to start a small talk.

Small talk is a simple art to start a conversation with a total stranger. The more proficient you are at handling small talk; you stand a better chance in connecting with a new friend. Small talk brings you new friends. All it takes is that little bit of courage.