40 Interesting Things to Talk About in Any Situation

Most of us are trading in Zoom for in-person get togethers, so it's time to brush up on small talk for work and play. Let's face it, some of us weren't great at starting a conversation even before the pandemic! So, if you're feeling a little rusty, don't worry, we've got you covered with 40 interesting topics that are sure to get anyone talking.

  1. Pets - This topic is sure to inspire lots of conversation about our four-legged family members! Ask if they have a pet. If so, the conversation should flow from there (or ask them to share a few favorite stories). If they don't have a pet, ask if they hope to one day and what kind (this can bring up the cat vs. dog debate).
  2. Holidays - Ask about their plans for an upcoming holiday. Follow up with questions about their favorite holiday and how they like to celebrate. 
  3. Vacations - Ask if they have an upcoming vacation planned or where they hope to go next. You can also ask about their favorite vacation and where they would go if money was not an object!
  4. Heroes - Heroes come in lots of different shapes and sizes and can mean different things to different people. Ask who their hero is and why, and this will no doubt lead to an engaging conversation. 
  5. High School or College - What were they like in high school or college? How much have they changed since then? What did they love or hate most about that time in their life, or ask if they would consider them the "best 4 years of their life"?
  6. Podcast - Are they a fan of podcasts? What podcast would they recommend and why? If they had their own podcast, what would it focus on?
  7. Childhood Memories - Ask about their favorite memory from childhood and how it may have shaped an experience they later had as an adult.
  8. Hidden Talents - Most people have a hidden talent that they rarely get to share. Get them talking about the thing they do well that no one knows about.
  9. Books - Ask what book they are currently reading or the last book they read. If they aren't exactly an avid reader, ask about their favorite book of all time and the reason they like it so much.
  10. Concerts - What was the last concert they attended? If they haven't been to a show recently, ask about their favorite concert from the past. This should lead to a fun conversation about music and even favorite bands.

  1. Restaurants - It's always fun to find a new restaurant to try. Ask about their favorite dining spot in town and what dish(es) they love on the menu. Learn more by asking about their favorite restaurant anywhere and what restaurant is on their bucket list.
  2. First Job - Whether they waited tables in a restaurant, worked as the neighborhood babysitter or even had a paper route, we all remember our first jobs and can usually have a good laugh about them.
  3. Exercise - Many people are obsessed with their workout of choice whether it's Crossfit, pilates or hitting the gym. Almost everyone has strong feelings about exercise and likely a love/hate relationship that they can talk about!
  4. Gifts - Ask about the best gift they've ever given and the best gift they've ever received. Follow up by sharing your own favorite gifts!
  5. Sports - What sports do they like to participate in (now or growing up)? How about their kids? What sport have they always wanted to try?
  6. Sports Teams - This always leads to a lively discussion when you ask someone what teams they cheer for - and why! There's usually a good story and it's not always an obvious one.
  7. Best Day - Ask what their best day looks like. It can be something that's already happened or something they can't wait to do. Either way, they're sure to be happy talking about it.
  8. Free Time - Ask what they like to do in their free time (or what they would do if they had more free time). This is vague enough to leave a lot of room for all kinds of answers and an upbeat discussion.
  9. Expertise/Learning - What kind of things are they really good at for work or in life? What's a skill they would like to learn?
  10. Apps - Ask what their favorite app is on their phone or the one they find most useful on a daily basis.

  1. Embarrassing Moments - We all have mortifying memories and talking about them can make for some good laughs and endearing conversations.
  2. Favorite Recipe - Most cooks love to share their favorite recipes and the stories behind them. Even if they don't cook, they may love talking about their grandma's famous dish.
  3. Bingeworthy Show - What are they watching right now or what's one show they loved watching? Fortunately, there's always a new show that everyone is buzzing about, so you can talk about the new show they want to watch.
  4. Bucket List - Some people have a few big dreams and others are actively working on checking life goals off a long list. Ask what's on their bucket list and what they may have recently completed.
  5. Dessert - Sweet or tangy? Some people believe chocolate is synonymous with dessert. Others say key lime pie takes the cake and others may want to skip sweets for a salty treat. No matter what they're craving for dessert, it's always worth talking about!
  6. Favorite Pizza Topping - The answers could range from simple pepperoni to pineapple or barbecue chicken but could lead to further conversation about the best pizza spots.
  7. First Car - There are always interesting stories behind the first car. Did they save babysitting money for years to afford a car that barely made it out of the neighborhood, or did they get lucky and get a great gift when they turned 16?
  8. High School Superlative - Did they stand out as most talkative, life of the party or most likely to succeed? If not, what would they say their superlative would be now?
  9. Music - Ask about their favorite music. What do they listen to on a long road trip? In the kitchen when they're cooking?
  10. Accomplishments - It can sometimes feel funny to bring up some of the things we're most proud of, but when someone asks you point blank, it's a great reason to share some of your accomplishments.

  1. Job/Work - What do you do? How did you get into this line of work? Is this what you dreamed of doing when you were a child? If you could do any job and didn't have to worry about money, what would it be?
  2. Celebrity Lookalike - We almost all have doppelgangers and sometimes they're even famous. Ask if they hear they look like another famous face, or who they think is their celebrity twin! You may already have someone in mind for them - share your thoughts too!
  3. Celebrity Crush - This could be someone they were crushing on growing up or a celebrity they have a crush on now.
  4. Celebrity Meet and Greet - Lots of people have had a run-in with someone famous at some point in their lives and there's usually a good story behind it! If they haven't had a celebrity encounter, who would they most like to meet in person?
  5. Board Games - Do they have a favorite board game they enjoy playing? It can be something simple like checkers or something more complex like Settlers of Catan.
  6. Family Fun - What does their family love to do together? Are they big on camping trips, board games or Sunday dinners? Make sure to share your own family favorites as well.
  7. Current Trends - Sometimes it helps to talk about the mom jeans that "the kids" are wearing or the latest TikTok trend that is hard for adults to make sense of. You'll probably learn something new about pop culture and share a few good laughs!
  8. Comedy - Get them talking about their favorite comedian or the funny movie they love to watch over and over again.
  9. Social Media - What platforms are they on and why? Which ones do they love? Hate?
  10. Hobbies - Ask them if they have any interesting hobbies. Maybe they spend time each day fixing up an old car or painting. You can learn a lot about someone from what they enjoy doing.
Get creative and add to this list with your own conversation starters. Pro Tip: ask an open-ended question so that you get more than a simple yes or no in response and try to avoid politics and religion. Happy chatting!

Michelle Boudin is an investigative reporter for WCNC TV and a freelance writer.