Even if you’re the most extroverted person out there, chatting it up with new acquaintances doesn’t always happen as naturally as you might think. A good question or topic is key to making connections and starting conversations.
Also, be sure to show genuine interest when listening to responses. It will help the conversation flow and give you ideas for follow up questions once the conversation begins.
Whether you’re at a casual party, a business function or somewhere in between, here are 50 conversation starters that will help get your social gears in motion.
Conversation Topics That Will Work Anywhere
These topics will work everywhere, from the company picnic to your nephew’s birthday party. One tip: If you’re asking someone a question, be sure to have your answer ready to go.
- Tell me about yourself. This open-ended conversation starter is perfect because it invites the other person to reveal as much (or as little) about themselves as they want.
- What’s been the best part of your day so far? A great way to keep things positive — even if the person has had a terrible day, they’ll be able to find something good to say about it.
- What do you do to relax? Almost everyone needs a little more relaxation these days. In addition to helping you get to know the other person better, asking this question may help you find some new tips to unwind.
- What book are you reading right now? If they haven’t had time for reading lately, ask them to share the last great book they read or what titles are on their list for the future.
- What’s your favorite thing about your hometown? A great follow up question to “Where are you from?” this conversation starter will get the memories flowing and may even give you some great recommendations if you are ever passing through town.
- What’s the last thing you bought online that you really loved? Besides helping you get to know the other person, this topic might help you find your next great online purchase.
- What would be your perfect weekend? Some people love to spend their weekends unwinding, while others pack tons of plans into those 48 hours. This question is also a good way to find out the other person’s hobbies and what they do for fun.
- What’s something (besides your phone) that you take with you everywhere? You may find out about a person’s lucky charm, a sentimental photo or some other meaningful piece of memorabilia.
- What’s the last great show you binged? If you both watch television, you’re likely to find something in common with this topic. You might even get a recommendation for your next favorite show.
- If you started a business, what kind would it be? Tap into people’s entrepreneurial spirit with this topic, which could lead to more follow-up conversation if the person has a business already or is planning to open one soon.
- What’s your favorite season and why? A great alternative to “Wow, it’s ____ outside today,” this topic invites the other person to talk about their preferred temperature, climate, holidays and more.
- Have you seen that viral video/meme? An easy way to get the conversation going is to mention a video or meme that’s recently gone viral. Since almost everyone spends at least some amount of time on their phone these days, the other person is likely to have at least heard of it.
- What’s your hidden talent? You’re sure to find out some fun facts about people with this question. From juggling to skateboarding to braiding hair, you never know what talents someone may have.
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At a Party
Parties are a great chance to flex your conversational muscles. You’ll likely have varying degrees of familiarity with your fellow party guests, so these conversation tips will help you deepen your connection. Who knows? You may leave the party upgraded from acquaintances to friends.
- How do you know the host/hostess? This will help you immediately make a connection with another partygoer since you have at least one friend in common. Finding out how they know the host and sharing stories about your mutual friend will help you feel closer in no time.
- Did you come to this party last year? This works great for a birthday party or other annual event.
- What are you drinking? Whether it’s alcohol, soda, or just water, this question will likely open up a larger dialogue. Be prepared to follow up with questions like “Is it good?” and “Have you had it before?”
- What’s your favorite restaurant around here? Especially relevant if you’re in a different part of town, this question will get the conversation going and potentially give you some great recommendations for the future.
- What did you get the birthday girl/guy? If It’s a birthday party and the guests have brought gifts, this question is a sure-fire way to start chatting. You may even find out something new about your friend the host.
- Who is your favorite singer/actor/sports personality? Depending on the context of your party, this topic may work well organically (if there’s live music or a sports/game element, for example), and could start a fun debate.
- Have you tried _____ (food)? If there’s food at the party, asking fellow partygoers what they think of the spread is a great way to start chatting. If it’s a potluck, ask people what they brought, how they made it, etc.
- What’s the best birthday gift you’ve ever received? This one will get the memories going — have fun getting nostalgic thinking about birthdays gone by.
At a Work Event
Conferences, after work happy hours, the break room at lunch — there are so many work-related places where you might find yourself having a conversation with a coworker. Here are a few tips to help you make connections and extend your network.
- How long have you worked here? This invites the other person to share a little about their history with the company and is a great chance for you to find out something new.
- What’s your favorite part of your job? It can be tempting to complain about work when coworkers get together; keeping the conversation positive will go a long way to uplift your team.
- Are you working on any personal passion projects right now? Take a break from shop talk and let the other person tell you about their interests outside the office.
- What are you going to do this weekend? Find out someone’s weekend plans and you’ll get to know them on a deeper level. Are they going for a hike or kicking it on the couch? This topic also lends itself well to follow-up questions (Where’s your favorite hiking trail? What show are you binging?).
- What did you want to be when you grew up? This is a great topic for workplace events because you can follow up with questions about elements of their career that apply to their childhood dream job.
- What would be your dream vacation? Find out how they’d like to use those PTO days (and get some recommendations for future vacations for yourself).
- Do you consider yourself organized? Whether they’re obsessed with order or thrive in messy chaos, this topic will help you get to know the person on a deeper level.
- How do you measure your success? This open-ended question will help make a more substantial connection. You could follow up by asking who are some of the most successful people they know, and how others can get to that level.
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On a Date
A date — especially a first date — can be the holy grail of awkward chit-chat. Use these tips to keep the conversation flowing.
- What’s the last thing that made you laugh out loud? The only thing people love more than laughing is making others laugh. This conversation starter also gives an opening for people to show you a hilarious video or share a memory that you can giggle about together.
- What was your first car? Is there anything more nostalgic than a person’s first car? Whether it’s laughably embarrassing or impossibly cool, they’ll almost certainly want to share a story about their first set of wheels.
- What person in your life brings you the most joy? A perfect chance to talk about their mom, grandfather or other beloved family member or friend, this topic is sure to lead to more conversation as your date shares stories about the person they love.
- Do you have any tattoos? People usually love sharing the stories behind their tattoos. Or if they don’t have any, they’ll probably be happy to explain why.
- Do you have any pets? What are their names? Get to know whether they’re a dog or cat person (or reptile or bird!) and find out the meaning behind Fido’s name.
- What were you obsessed with when you were a child? Dinosaurs, monster trucks, Barbies — every kid has an obsession and finding out your date’s childhood interests might help you learn more about them as an adult.
- What’s your most controversial opinion? People love giving “hot takes.” Find out your date’s ultimate controversial opinion and be ready to share your own point of view on the topic, doing your best to reach understanding if you don’t agree.
- What’s the most annoying habit a person can have? Bond over shared annoyance with this topic (or find out if you have the habit they hate).
- What are you going to order? If you’re at a restaurant, bar, coffee shop or anywhere else with a menu, this easy conversation starter is sure to get the other person chatting. Plus you’ll figure out the vibe of the date (i.e. cocktails and apps or a beer and a huge steak).
- Where’s the most beautiful place you’ve ever been? This question works well for travelers and homebodies alike. A citizen of the world might tell you about an exotic foreign locale while a less-traveled person might tell you about a particularly special area close to their hometown. Either way, the conversation is sure to flow.
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If you don’t have children of your own or aren’t around kids often, it can feel daunting to try to chat with them. But the truth is most children love to talk to grownups, especially about a topic that interests them. Bust out these ideas at your next child’s birthday party or sporting event.
- What’s your favorite dinosaur? Of course, not every child likes dinosaurs or knows enough about them to have a favorite. But many of them do, and if they don’t, they’ll be happy to tell you something else they do like. Be ready to follow up with “How about planets?” or any other child-friendly topic.
- Do you have any brothers or sisters? Family is a favorite topic for most kids since they spend all their time together. This is especially true if they have a new baby in the house and are getting used to their older sibling status. Be sure to follow up with “Are they older or younger?” and “What do you like to do together?”
- What show are you watching right now? Kids love to talk about their favorite shows, which they likely watch over and over. Ask why they like that show and what is their favorite episode.
- What food would you eat every day if you could? A fun alternative to “what’s your favorite food,” this topic will likely bring some hilarious answers. You can follow up with questions like “What kind of candy?” and “How many bowls of mac and cheese could you eat in one sitting?”
- What’s your favorite color? What about your brother’s favorite color? If there’s one thing kids catch onto early, it’s their favorite color. And they likely know the preferred hue for their family and close friends.
- What are you going to do for your birthday this year? Don’t worry if their birthday has already passed or they aren’t doing anything big. Kids love to talk about their grandiose birthday plans — even if they will never happen. This topic also lends itself well to follow up questions like “What kind of cake will you have?” and “Who are you going to invite?”
- What’s your favorite subject in school? For kids, school is their full-time job. It’s where they spend lots of their time and mental energy, so they should have plenty to talk about. Follow up with questions about why they like that particular subject and which subjects are not on their list.
- What’s your favorite animal? Kids have strong opinions about their favorite animals, whether they are real or imaginary. You can keep the conversation going with follow-up questions about favorite animals that are pets, live at the zoo, live in the ocean and more.
- What’s your favorite room in your house and why? To kids, home is their playground and safe space, so they will likely love to chat about it. You could ask more questions about their favorite toys, books and things to do outside.
- Which TV show or movie would you want to come true in real life? Whether they’d like their favorite cartoon animal to come alive or live in a castle like a movie princess, kids are sure to have lots of opinions on this one.
- What’s your favorite song? Get ready to listen to them sing it!
No matter what kind of event you’re attending, these questions and topics are sure to get the conversation going. Happy chatting!
Sarah Pryor is a journalist, wife, mom and Auburn football fan living in Charlotte, N.C.