How to Start a Conversation

(also see 101 Conversation Starters)

How to Start a Conversation with a Stranger

1. Start with a greeting.
For most people, breaking the ice is the hardest part in starting a conversation with someone you don't know but after the ice is broken, everything esle should come easier.

To start, make eye contact, smile, and make a greeting
  • Hi, how are you?
  • How's it going?
  • Good morning
  • Good afternoon

2. Introduce yourself and find out the strangers name.
You: I'm Susan, what's your name?
Stranger: I'm Jack.
You: It's nice to meet you Jack. (If appropriate, this is where you would reach your hand out to shake their hand.)

3. Find a common topic that you can talk about.
Start with small talk by bringing up a topic that both of you have in common.
  • This can be based on your immediate surroundings, their attire, or the event you are attending, such as commenting on the music playing in the background or asking how they know the host.
    • I like your shirt, where'd you get it?
    • How did you hear about this event?
    • Do you know who sings the song that is playing?
  • You could also talk about general topics such as the weather, current events, hobbies, school or work.
    • What do you do for a living?
    • What do you do for fun?
    • What do think about this weather?
    • What do you usually do on the weekends?

    4. Continue the conversation.
    Keep the conversation going by listening to what they have to say and respond appropriately. Try to pick up cues on their areas of interest and expand on that. Follow up with additional questions and if the conversation starts to die out, don't be afraid to go into other topics.

    Here are some follow up questions you can ask someone who says that they enjoy running:
    • How long have you been running for?
    • What is your favorite thing about running?
    • How often do you run?
    • How far do you usually run?
    • Where do you usually run?
    • Do you run by yourself or with friends?
    • What do you wear when you run?
    • Do you listen to music when you run?
      • What music do you usually listen to?
    • Are you training for any races?
    • Have you ever thought about running a marathon?

    5. Closing
    Tell them it was a pleasure meeting them. If appropriate ask them for their contact info.

    Also see: 100 Conversation Starters | Would You Rather Questions | Conversation Tips

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