Starting a Conversation When You Have Nothing to Talk About

Whether you are a host or a guest, there are many social situations that will call for interaction, even when you are stumped for some way to get it going. For example, you might want to help a friend's new "significant other" feel comfortable. Or, you might see a stranger across a crowded room, and realize that this is your only chance to impress Mr. or Ms. Wonderful. Then, you realize that you're not sure what to say.


  1. Start with an introduction, and simply tell the new person your name. Offer your hand to shake, upon his/her responding to you. If you already know the person, skip this step and proceed to step 2.
  2. Look around. See if there is anything worth pointing out. Sure, talking about the weather is a cliche, but if there's something unusual about it you've got a great topic of conversation.
  3. Ask questions! Most people love to talk about themselves --- get them going. "What classes are you taking this year?" but don't talk about yourself too much that makes you seem full of yourself. "Have you seen that new movie? What did you think of it?" Ask open ended questions that will get them talking. For example, a good question would be, "That's a nice handbag, where did you get it?" and then they can talk about the day that they went shopping and all this funny stuff happened, as opposed to, "I like your handbag." "Thank you." and then its over. Again, keep the questions light and not invasive. Do not ask too many questions if he or she is not responsive to them.
  4. Jump on any conversation-starters he or she might offer; take something he or she has said and run with it. Agree, disagree, ask a question about it, or offer an opinion, just don't let it go by without notice.
  5. Look your new found friend in the eye, it engenders trust (but don't stare). Also, use the person's name a time or two during the conversation; it will help you remember the name, and will draw the person's attention to what you are talking about. Smile a lot, and laugh when any quip is made by the other person.
  6. So, you should just be yourself and ask the question that you would think be the right thing to say but, give yourself some time to think about what you say before you say it.
  7. Begin with something that would sound interesting Don't choke when you are speaking. Put your personality out in the open show that you're not afraid of telling them who you truly are.


  • Just relax. Chances are that whatever small-talk you're making isn't going to stick out in anyone's mind a few months from now. Just say whatever comes into your head, so long as it's not offensive or really weird. (Unless, of course, the person you're attempting to converse with is into weird stuff.)
  • Remember, if you think of something in your head while you're talking, it's probably related.
  • It will help if you watch some TV, listen to radio shows, and/or read a lot -- newspapers, magazines, and/or books. You need to have some idea of what is going on in the world. Also remember and plan to share anything you like, think is funny, or find intriguing. This is building up your own library of things that might be helpful to another person during a conversation someday. It will be amazing how you thread these interesting things when you least expect it, and make conversation an adventure instead of a dreadful task. If you take it to the next step and say things that you want the person to think of as adding value, and keep to yourself things that the person might not, you are actually honing your own personality to be appealing to the other person, and what is a greater act of kindness than that?
  • If you are shy, it will be helpful to have thought about a topic or two that you could talk about.
  • Follow the lead that your listener is expressing. If he or she appears interested, then continue. If he or she is looking at a clock or watch, or worse, looking for an escape strategy, then you have been going on for too long.
  • Interesting and funny quotes or facts can lighten things up, and make way for things to talk about. You could also use a set of conversation starter question cards for inspiration.
  • If talking over the phone, keep the person involved in the conversation at all costs. If you can't come up with a good topic, try the "questions" game. Just keep asking them questions; random questions work just fine as long as they are appropriate. This technique can save a phone conversation. The questions should be open ended questions that do not require a yes or no answer. For example "How do you know the hosts?" This way you can ask questions about what they just said or follow up with how you know the hosts (for example) instead of acting as if the conversation is an interrogation.
  • Half of an effective conversation is the way you non-verbally communicate, and not necessarily what you say. Practice better non-verbal skills that are friendly and confident.
  • Take a mental note of some amusing things that you saw or heard througout the day. For example, something funny someone said, a fun activity you did with your friends, or anything interesting. This can give way to future conversation.
  • Watch some stand-up comedians or comedy shows to get an idea of how to start a conversation humorously. Usually, the leads you find will be funny, and you will not need much in common to talk about them.
  • Remember, whoever you are talking to, you always have something in common. We all experience the weather, like good food, and enjoy a good laugh. When in doubt, just talk to them about what they are there for. For example, if you meet them at a bus stop, ask them where they are going. If they are from out of town, ask them about their life at home.
  • Remember, feel comfortable and look neat, no one wants to talk to a slob.
  • One last thing, it is important to practice getting conversations started. You may feel a little clumsy at first, but with practice it can become easy to start good conversations.


  • Don't be overly invasive with questions.
  • Don't use tons of fillers like "umm" or "soo". It might make the person you're talking to feel awkward or obligated to say something. Instead talk slowly and pause. This will create a little tension and make your newly found friend more invested in your conversation.
  • Don't desperately ask personal questions.
  • Keep eye-contact
  • Don't ever comment negatively on the person or someone else's looks... you never know if they have a personal attachment to it or if they are friends with the person you are criticizing
  • Never swear, insult, disrespect, use racial, religious, sexual orientation, and gender slurs in front of others (Unless you know who they are and if they have the same views on things as you.)
  • Never act arrogantly and pretend to be a Know It All when dealing with people
  • Do not speak, behave or dress immaturely
  • Never ever interrupt a conversation between one or more people. Wait for the conversation to stop and then say something. Common courtesy goes a long way.
  • Always say please, may I, thank you, could you when someone is nice to you and when you want something. Being polite shows maturity and intelligence
  • Respect those around you
  • Be neat, well dressed and groomed. Sloppiness, bad breath and body odor will get you nowhere.
  • Sometimes when you start a conversation, the person you're talking with might think you're boring. But, it's okay! Head onto someone else, because sometimes you can pick the wrong person.
  • If you are talking to someone you have a "crush" on do not talk about their girlfriend/boyfriend or anything related to you liking them. Stick to what you know about them: if they are into sports talk about the most recent big game.