Topics to Talk About – 15 Experts Reveal Their Favorite Conversation Starters
Topics to Talk About – 15 Experts Reveal Their Favorite Conversation Starters
What makes starting conversations with some people so difficult, even though you find it easy to do with others?
If you’re looking for some practical strategies that you can use in your life today, then you’ll love this list.
It’s a simple compilation of great topics to talk about that will create great conversations in your personal or work life.
And that’s right, for you advanced folks out there – Check what the Experts have to say at the bottom.
But for those of you who want a little refresher in great conversations continue on below.
From a Walk in the Park to a Conversation at Work, these Topics to Talk About have Everything You Need
“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.”
– Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics
A Beginners Guide to Great Conversations
For some of us, the struggle is real.
We run out of words to say, questions to ask, topics to talk about as we mumble our words and stutter, making a complete fool out of ourselves…
This can even happen to you when you’re in a relationship, maybe you’re just naturally shy, or just because you naturally struggle when it comes to communicating.
It can be difficult to start fun conversation topics and keeping the conversation flowing, so I don’t blame you if you’re feeling somewhat stressed about it.
But not to worry!
I have you covered from interesting topics that can lead to great general conversation questions, to conversation starters for couples so that you can memorize and have ready to keep someone intrigued and interested in what you have to talk about.
How To Keep a Conversation Flowing
Starting a conversation doesn’t help if you can’t keep the flow going!
So I want to let you know how to hold a conversation before we get into the conversation topics at parties, otherwise, they’ll be pointless if you struggle when it comes to conversing.
(If you believe you’re already a conversation mastermind and you’re just looking for some interesting topics to have as conversation questions, then just scroll on down!)
So often, many of us end up just conversing with ourselves in our minds during a conversation with someone else, such as asking ourselves, “What am I meant to ask now!?”, “Are they still interested?”, “Should I say something?” This consistent questioning will, of course, lead to a lack of focus on what’s center in the moment with your partner you are conversing with and is also an indication that you are struggling with keeping a nice natural flow to the conversation questions.
To enhance the flow of a conversation, there are a few key factors that you need to be aware of so that you can have good topics to talk about relative to the person you are communicating with.
Topics to Talk about – Know Their Interests
If the person you’re talking to enjoys watching baseball, don’t make them talk about golf.
If the person you’re talking to has a passion for baseball, do your best to ask them something about baseball.
Pay attention to who you’re speaking with and be friendly, adjust the topic to something they would be interested in talking about.
Knowing what the person who you are communicating with is interested in is essential to the flow of the conversation. It creates direction for topics to talk about and they will become interesting topics if they are relative to the person’s personal interests.
But how exactly do you know what the person is interested in if you are meeting them for the first time? Or just have no clue whatsoever because you have forgotten?
Here are some tips:
1. Appearance – Often, just by looking at one’s appearance, we can get a small indication as to the type of person they are and their personal interests, they’re called memes. This however does, unfortunately, use generalizing as its source, so be careful! Examples include T-shirts with a certain image or phrase that relates to an artist or band, therefore expressing their interest in that particular artist or genre of music. Matching brand/designer clothing, indicating their interests in that line of clothing from that brand or designer. Accessories/hairstyle can express some of their interests, such as piercings and long hair on a male may convey their interest in heavy metal music.
2. Linguistics – The way in which one speaks can give you an insight as to where they enjoy placing their time and mind. For example, someone interested in philosophy may be noticeable by their use of terminology in the conversation at hand, relative to that field of study.
3. Hints – Usually the person you are conversing with will try to direct the conversation towards a particular topic that they find interesting. Try to be aware of them doing this and flow with them, keeping an open mind and making sure that you’re not too opinionated. (Hints like mentioning a specific public figure, or a particular issue of today’s world)
Now that you have a bit of knowledge as to how to flow well in a conversation, you’re nearly ready to go out there and get some practice so that it becomes more natural.
However, we first need to look at some interesting topics in multiple environments and situations, ranging from Topics at Parties and Social Gatherings, Great Topics to Talk About for Couples, to What the Experts Have to Say About Conversations.
The Challenge - Topics at Parties and Social Gatherings (Click to Reveal)
How many times have you been invited to a party where you only know one or two people?
You to find yourself alone most of the time sitting at the back, just wanting to go home but can’t because your ride home doesn’t arrive for a couple of more hours, so you just sit there awkwardly thinking that everyone is judging your loneliness.
Social gatherings and parties are a place where many of us feel anxious.
But, the essence of a social gathering is communicating with others, so it’s time to change that.
So if you’re someone who struggles to spark up a conversation with interesting topics to talk about, you’re probably avoiding these environments and missing out on the fun and magic that takes place when we come together and get to know one another.
At a party or social gathering, the best questions to ask are entertaining ones, so it’s all about having fun and not taking things too seriously.
Here are some questions you can ask someone at a party or social gathering.
Good Conversations to have with your Partner
The Challenge - Topics to Talk About with Your Partner (Click to Reveal)
The dinners are becoming noticeably quiet, the conversations less intriguing, causing the vibe between the two of you to feel a little too dull. It can be difficult to always have something to talk with your partner, even for new couples. You can often find yourself in awkward silences even though you both want to speak to one another about something. I encourage that for every time you’re together and trying to figure out what to say, pick a random question or topic and just run with it. It can provide a fun way to learn about your partner in a whole new way. Here are a few topics to talk about to get your creativity flowing:
Conversation in the Great Outdoors
The Challenge - Topics to Talk in the Great Outdoors (Click to Reveal)
Parks can be a great place to meet someone new!
The environment is friendly and relaxing, opening up the possibility to engage in conversation with someone about interesting topics to talk about.
It is also great when it’s a dog park, and if you yourself have brought along your four-legged friend. It provides a plethora of topics, questions, and stories when you introduce your dog.
Whether you’ve decided to go to the park with your pet, someone, or if you’ve just met someone there, here are some helpful conversation starters:
Make Workplace Topics Interesting
The Challenge - Topics to Talk About at Work (Click to Reveal)
Let’s all be honest, work can be a drag depending on whether you’re one of the lucky ones who work doing what they love, or if you only work for the reason to pay for your existence each day.
To help deal with the tediousness of the workplace, it is a very good idea to get to know the people you work with so that friendships can be created.
This alone will help ease the stress as well as create a healthier work environment.
To do this, you should not only spend time with your colleagues at work but also outside.
The difficulty of this is that a sense of awkwardness can come about between you and your work colleagues when you’re together outside of work…you don’t have work to use as a topic to direct your conversations around.
Which is why it is important to lighten up the workplace environment with some interesting topics and questions so that you can get by each day with more ease and learn more about people that you spend so much time together.
Here are a few suggestions of what to ask:
Have Great Conversations
We use conversations as a way to hear each other’s minds, to get to know one another better.
They are necessary when forming friendships, intimate relationships, and are what we rely on to help us get to know ourselves better too.
So hopefully I have provided you with some great conversation starters that you can use to enjoy experiencing fun conversations with anyone you.
What the Experts Have to Say About Conversations
Everyone can recall a great conversation they had – one that might have even been life-changing.
Sadly, you might also remember a long and unfilled awkward silence that left both people feeling uncomfortable.
However, there ARE people that have mastered the art of conversation. They never have trouble with finding good topics to talk about.
I decided to gather 15 of them and ask them one question:
What is your favorite question to start up an interesting conversation?
Let me tell you, the insights I received from these 15 Experts is PURE GOLD. I’ve listed them below.
– Responses listed in the order they were received –
Abiola Abrams – Womanifesting
“I am an empowerment coach, speaker, writer, international retreat leader, and course creator who guides soul-based women entrepreneurs to stop playing small as they answer their big callings. That being said, I’m also an introverted INFJ and have had social anxiety for much of my life. So, I have studied conversations and conversation starter.
I am not into small talk because I love going deep.
My favorite conversation starter is: So what are you passionate about right now?
This is an exciting question for anyone. Questions like – What do you do? Can make people feel interrogated or examined, but what are you passionate about can range from their life’s work to their children to a podcast they recently discovered. This question is a gift to the receiver – because who doesn’t like to share their passions – and it is also a gift to the asker. How wonderful to share this way.
Terry Heick – TeachThought
“What do you love?
Affection is the foundation for understanding, connecting, relationships, maintenance, restoration, great design, literature, music, love–almost anything good that people do starts with or is done through affection. Affection is the ultimate why? and gets people talking and curious–in a state of flow when they work, and unguarded and vulnerable and authentic when they talk.”
Angela Watson – The Cornerstone For Teachers
“What’s going on that you’re really excited about right now?
It gives people to permission to cut through the small talk and dive immediately into the work or experiences they’re most passionate about.”
Steve Hargadon – The Learning Revolution Project
“Can you remember a specific experience when you felt like you were really learning–when you were deeply engaged and growing as a learner?
Follow-on question: What were the conditions that led to that experience?
This is powerful enough I actually created a tutorial for using these questions at https://www.conditionsoflearning.com/ you’re sure to find several topics to talk about there.”
Neil Jarret – EdTech 4 Beginners
“I would put forward the power of using the word explain.
Often individuals can easily give you a direct answer to a question. However, if you ask them to explain an answer, this involves greater thought.”
Douglas Green – Dr. Doug Green
“It depends on the context. If I’m traveling and run into a stranger, the ultimate conversation starter is:
Where are you from?
Since I am pretty conversant with the world at large I have no trouble taking it from there.
If the context is a group of teachers or a graduate class, I have found presenting a scenario that requires action and asking them – What would you do? Yields the best results. People are born to solve problems, so giving them one should get them started.”
David Didau – The Learning Spy
“Most of my work focus on helping people develop a healthy skepticism, so most of the questions I ask tend to be along the lines of How do you know? or Why do you think that?
However, these sorts of questions can make people feel annoyed and can put them on the defensive, so perhaps my favourite question to start a conversation or discussion is:
What if you were wrong? What would you do differently if you discovered that what you believe isn’t true?
This is a gentler, more persuasive way to make people think about rationality, the nature of evidence and the power of belief.”
Matt Bergman – Learn Lead Grow
“We are wired to love a good story. I always love asking someone two questions:
What experiences made you the person you are today?
Who would you like to be in five years?
As I grow older, I have realized that learning from others is one of the most important things that we can do. There are so many things we can learn from another person’s experiences, successes, and mistakes.”
Timothy Shanahan – Shanahan on Literacy
“Given that I’m an expert on literacy, my work is always focused on how to help people to read better, not surprisingly, my questions turn on literacy.
If I’m talking to educators I ask: What is the most important factor in improving reading achievement? It’s funny that we talk so much in education about raising reading scores, preparing kids better for college and work, and so on—and, yet, there is precious little discussion of what it would take to actually turn things around for kids in reading.
Of course, there is more than work—and yet, in my personal life the best question turns on literacy, too. Asking someone, What is the most recent book that you have read—or the most recent book for fun or the most recent book for work? usually opens up a wonderful discussion. People, even those usually taciturn about themselves, will tell all kinds of things about themselves when they explain what they read, what they got out of it, why they read it, and so on.”
Chris Macleod – SucceedSocially.com
“In a low-key, friendly social situation like a party I can’t think of a favorite conversation-starting question I have. I usually keep it pretty simple, and start with basic getting-to-know-you questions. I live in a small city where a lot of people around my age recently moved for work or university, so if I’ve met someone I’ll sometimes phrase my initial question as something like:
What’s your rough story? Have you been in town long? Did you move here to go to grad school or anything like that?
I know there’s a type of social skills advice that says you should avoid boring standard small talk questions at all costs, but in my experience they work fine. I find it’s not so much about what the initial question is, than what I do with their answer and where I take it from there – Do I ask good follow-up questions? Do I have something interesting I can add? Am I picking up on an element in their answer that’s taking the discussion in a direction we’d both be interested in talking about?, etc. Are other fundamentals like my body language, confidence, sense of humor at least okay (they don’t need to be perfect)
In my experience different questions lead to good conversations with different people. If the first doesn’t go anywhere, the next might. With one person I may ask what they do for work, and it turns out they’re in a similar field, and it’s not long before we’re having some in-depth talk about our dreams for the future. With another person the job question may not lead anywhere, but if I then ask if they’ve seen any good shows lately we may then having fun chatting about our favorite series for half an hour.
I also find that whether a conversation goes in a light/fun or deep/serious direction is also often a matter of how you follow up than the initial question. Like if I meet someone, ask about their job, and they tell me they’re an investment banker, if I follow up with: Ha ha, so is the stereotype true. Do you guys really party as hard as in the movies? the conversation is going to down a different path than if I asked them what they think about some recent article I read on proposed banking regulations.”
Alexis Barad-Cutler – Freelance Writer and Children’s Book Author
When trying to start a conversation with someone new I usually first begin by taking in a person’s demeanor (do they seem like they want to engage), and trying to get a sense of their social cues.
I also think it helps to look at a person’s appearance, because if you’re really lacking a conversation opener, it can’t hurt to comment or complement a person on a sartorial detail such as an interesting pair of glasses or shoes, etc.
If I’m in a group setting and I’m trying to get a conversation flowing with a less forthcoming bunch than me, I often tell a funny story about something that happened to me recently. Usually, someone relates to a part of it and then there’s a domino effect of sharing.
Vulnerability is a magical thing – but people need permission to show it and no one wants to be the first to jump off that high dive. If I had to pick a question per se, to start a conversation or discussion it would probably be:
So was your day as delightful as mine?
It packs a one-two punch of being approachable, vulnerable, and already tells a person a little bit about yourself without having had to say much of anything. It gives people permission to open up and relate to one another on the universal experience that everyday life is interesting and contains stories worth sharing with one another.
Tamara Chilver – Teaching with TLC
“What do you like to do for fun?
People enjoy talking about what excites them. Whether it is traveling, hanging out with their family, playing a sport, or engaging in a hobby.
I listen carefully for something that we have in common to continue our conversation. Those common threads are what tie us together as people. They create meaningful and authentic conversations that people will remember.”
Paul Sanders – Get the Friends You Want
“I wouldn’t say there is a question that inspires great conversations. Rather, I would say that there is a series of questions.
If you want to have a smooth, interesting and bonding conversation with someone new, then asking one specific question won’t do it. Instead, you can create amazing conversations by following certain steps.
First step: Start the conversation by commenting, or asking about something in the context/environment where you are.
Ideally, you want to be in a context or situation where it’s appropriate and expected of you to meet people and socialize.
As you start talking to someone, ask them what their relationship to that environment is. Example: If you’re in an event about a type of music ‘Have you always been listening to this kind of music?‘ Once they answer, tell them what your answer to that same question is. Example: ‘Yeah me too, It’s the first time I listen to this stuff and I kinda like it.’
Second step: Find something that is interesting to them, and ask questions about that.
As you talk, try and branch out from the subject of the environment. Try and figure out what they do outside school/work. Try and find out where they lived/worked in the past, and what they see themselves doing in the future.
Here is the kicker… ask ‘WHY?‘
If you ask about the reasons behind what they do, what they like, or what they would like to do, you’ll get some valuable information that can reveal a lot about them.
Maybe doing what they do now makes them really feel connected to others. Maybe it’s challenging, and they’re someone who loves challenge. In any case, you’ll reveal what really makes them tick. You can then expand on that, and get in the details. They’ll be excited to talk about what really drives them, so that’ll make for a great conversation.
Just remember to always contribute with your own views. Share your experiences and stories (and even what you’ve heard) about that particular thing they’re excited about.
The reason this works so well, is because you’re not focusing on content and topics that might interest some people, but not others. Instead, you’d be focusing on what drives and excites the other person.”
Alejandro Dominguez-Garcia – Digital Marketing Institute
“How you develop talent, you help people grow to the next level and be their best?
Whether you are an employee seeking a better understanding of corporate culture, or a leader trying to build something incredible, you’ll gain insight from other people’s experience and perspective.”
Utkarsh Narang – Ignited Neurons
“I am a Happiness Seeker and a Time Freezer (a really fancy term I have used for myself instead of calling myself a photographer!). Since the last year and a half, I have been on a journey to decipher Happiness. I have had conversations with 425+ strangers, on the streets of New Delhi and New York. And here’s how I approach the conversation.
I go up to them and after the initial exchange of salutations and greetings, my question to them is:
What is Happiness to you? And are you happy today?
I think these two questions trigger an avalanche of emotions and thoughts in a person. We all work towards and hope to achieve happiness but very few make the right choices to achieve it. What follows then is a heartfelt exchange of thoughts and ideas and sometimes emotions.”
Are You Excited for Your Next Conversation?
HUGE thanks to everyone who contributed to this awesome post! Please share if you think it was useful!
Now it’s your turn:
If you could only ask 1 Question to spark an interesting conversation what would it be?