How To Start A Conversation (With Conversation Starters)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 9 October 2022

Published 2 August 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Being able to start a meaningful conversation is an important skill that you can use to build and strengthen relationships. When you meet someone for the first time, you can make specific word choices to create a positive first impression. Establishing a list of conversation starters can also help you communicate with any person under any circumstances. In this article, we discuss how to start a conversation, explore 20 ways to start talking to a new person and share some examples of conversation starters for different situations.

Related: How To Introduce Yourself To A New Team (With Examples)

How To Start A Conversation?

In the workplace, you can choose from a wide variety of topics on how to start a conversation as long as they are appropriate for the environment. Conversation starters with colleagues or professional contacts can look different than those with new friends or acquaintances. Your initial efforts can start a conversation that might help you build valuable relationships with coworkers and colleagues. Here are some of the best ways to start a conversation:

1. Ask a question

One effective tactic to start a conversation is asking a question to the person you want to speak to. Depending on the situation you are in, you can ask questions related to food, weather or anything that can start a conversation. Even if you know the answer to your question, it can be a great way to begin conversing with strangers.

Example: “Do you know who is going to speak after the company's president has addressed the audience?”

2. Give a compliment

Complimenting someone whom you have met for the first time can lead to an ongoing and pleasant conversation. You can pick anything about the person you like and say something nice about them.

Example: “Your presentation was very inspiring and informational.”

3. Talk about an event or situation

Identify something interesting in your surroundings and talk about it. For instance, if you are at a business conference, you can share your views on the conference with the person sitting next to you. If you are in a coffee shop, you can talk about your favourite coffee to the person next to you in line.

Example: “My favourite shake is the Belgium chocolate shake topped with whipped cream and ice cream. What is yours?”

Related: Conversation Skills: Importance And Tips To Improve

4. Ask an opinion

To start a conversation with someone you do not know, you can ask someone's opinion on a particular topic. When you give importance to the opinions of others, you can showcase your willingness to talk to that person.

Example: “I am looking for comfortable sports shoes. Can you recommend brands that offer comfortable and affordable shoes?"

5. Offer help

If you have an option to help someone you want to talk to, offer them your help. When you provide assistance without asking, you can earn the other person's trust because you show genuine concern for their needs.

Example: “Can I help you convert the bar graph to line graph?"

6. Ask for help

Asking and requesting help from someone is a great way to start a conversation. Before asking for help, you can make sure your request is convenient and easy to perform.

Example: “I lost my way because of the heavy rainfall. Can you show me how to find the main street?”

7. Ask open-ended questions

Asking open-ended questions can initiate meaningful discussions, especially when you attend an event like a party or conference.

Example: “I have never heard such loud music at any of the social parties I attended. Have you?”

Related: What Are Open-Ended Questions? A Complete Guide

8. Share an interesting fact

Sharing an exciting fact with someone you want to talk to can be an effective way to establish a meaningful conversation. This is because it can connect two people through exploring a common interest or learning something new.

Example: “Did you know that Varanasi, the oldest inhabited place in the world, is 5,000 years old?”

9. Make a useful comment

Another effective strategy to start a conversation is making a useful or insightful comment based on the situation you find yourself. This way of conversing works best when there is something common to talk about.

Example: “When designing presentations, I prefer using the mouse pad in the laptop over an optical mouse.”

10. Ask a favour

When you ask a favour from someone, it can help to build a connection with that person by showing that you trust them. But, make sure that the favour is convenient and easy for them to do.

Example: “My pen just stopped working. Can I borrow your pen quickly?”

11. Mention a mutual colleague

Naming someone you both know can tell the listener that you are an extended part of their social circle. This might interest the other person to talk to you.

Example: “Do you know Honey Jain from the finance department? She and I have completed many projects together.”

12. Introduce yourself

If you cannot come up with a conversation starter, you can always try a direct approach and introduce yourself.

Example: “Hi, my name is Poonam Rai. I am a new joinee.”

Related: How to Introduce Yourself Professionally

13. Ask for an update

If you know someone by their reputation, you can ask for an update on something you know they have been doing. It is a great way to start a conversation, as you show concern about the other person.

Example: “I heard you were working on your food delivery venture. How is it going?”

14. Talk about them

Almost everyone loves to talk about themselves. So, to start a conversation, talk about the other person to trigger their interest and ensure a meaningful conversation.

Example: “Your desktop's wallpaper has a photo of a cute and innocent child. How old is your child?”

15. Make an observation

The environment in which you live or work can provide ample opportunities to start a conversation. For example, you can comment on the building, artwork or temperature.

Example: “I think our office building has beautiful architecture.”

16. Ask about their background

Another effective tactic to converse with someone is asking questions about their background, such as their education or previous work experiences.

Example: “Welcome to the marketing team. Tell me something about your educational qualifications and work experience.”

Related: How To Share Your Education Background

17. Seek advice

You can start a conversation by seeking advice from a stranger. When doing so, try to keep your advice relevant to the environment.

Example: “I am not sure whether to use the AP style guide or Chicago style guide to write the business report that is due tomorrow morning.”

18. Discuss common interests

In many circumstances, you may share an obvious interest with the other person. For example, if you both watch a cricket match sitting in a coffee shop, cricket is the common interest for both parties.

Example: “Are you following the local cricketing tournament? I watched the last game at the stadium. Are you planning to watch any of the remaining matches?”

Related: How To Start A Group Discussion (And Tips To Lead One)

19. Talk about a shared trait

You can use this strategy when the stranger shares a common trait with you. Making conversations about a common trait is a great way to start a meaningful conversation.

Example: “I noticed that you eat with your left hand but write with your right hand. I do the same.”

20. Talk about the current environment

If you are not sure how to connect or start a conversation with someone, talk about the current environment. This can help develop conversation topics and help you develop a strong relationship.

Example: “Which dish from this restaurant would you recommend?”

Related: How To Improve Business Conversation Skills (With Tips)

Conversation Starters For Different Situations

Conversation starters are important for effective and enjoyable discussions with colleagues, friends and strangers. Here are a few conversation starters for different situations:

Conversation starters for conferences and corporate events

Use these questions to start a conversation at corporate event:

  • Which of these speakers were successful in capturing your attention with their speech?

  • Could you give me directions to reach the conference room?

  • How do you compare this conference with others you attended?

  • What do you like most about this event?

  • Did you attend this event last year?

Conversation starter for casual events

Parties and social events can happen anywhere, from a hotel to an auditorium. Most of the time, these casual events provide networking opportunities. Here are some casual conversation starters:

  • What is your favourite vacation destination?

  • Who else do you know at this event?

  • Did you see the awards last night?

  • I love your jeans. Where did you buy them?

  • Do you come to many events like these?

Conversation starters for colleagues and managers

Here are a few ways to start a conversation with your colleagues and managers:

  • How much has the company changed since your joining?

  • You did excellent work on the Mumbai project.

  • How would you rate your experience of working with this company?

  • Do you know if the sales head would deliver the speech after the regional head?

  • Hi, I am Reyansh Kwatra. I am a new joiner and I want to introduce myself to the rest of the team.

Related: 25 Zoom Icebreakers To Start Your Next Team Meeting

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