Best Small Talk Topics

by | Last updated Oct 25, 2023 | English Learning

Initiating a conversation with new acquaintances at networking events or social gatherings can be a daunting task for many. Deciding on suitable topics to discuss or even waiting for others to approach you may present challenges when it comes to engaging in small talk.

It’s those uncomfortable pauses that can make you feel uneasy. When you open your mouth and make eye contact, your initial thoughts may seem rather foolish. However, what you eventually say might be even worse. This is where the skill of engaging in small talk becomes invaluable.

The advent of social media has certainly simplified the personal lives of many introverted individuals. Nevertheless, if you’re in a customer-facing profession or if you’re learning English as a second language, the ability to communicate with strangers remains crucial.

To help you navigate these situations with confidence, we’ve compiled a list of the finest small talk subjects and questions, organized by categories and supplemented with illustrative examples, making it easier to initiate engaging conversations.

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Best Small Talk Topics, Questions, and Conversation Starters

We’ve divided these subjects and inquiries into broader categories, including weather and travel, food and culinary arts, and more. Feel free to keep some of these topics in mind and introduce them during your upcoming social event!


Food is an excellent choice for small talk, as it’s a topic that resonates with nearly everyone. Inquire about their favorite restaurants and the dishes they’d suggest. If they prefer home-cooked meals, you can ask about their favorite dishes to prepare at home. You can also paint a picture of a forthcoming event and ask for their advice on what to prepare or bring to it.

So, to help you start and keep a casual conversation going with a cooking fan, here are some useful food small talk questions:

  • What do you like about cooking?
  • What country food do you love?
  • What unhealthy food do you love?
  • What is the future of food in your country?
  • What do you like about cooking?

    Art and Cinema

    While it’s true that everyone has pastimes and interests, I wouldn’t suggest inquiring about the leisure activities of colleagues you’ve only recently met. For many introverted individuals, this can come across as overly personal, as they often maintain a clear boundary between their personal life and the workplace. Naturally, as you become more acquainted over the course of a couple of months, you might find it more appropriate to broach this topic, but it’s still important to respect their personal boundaries.

    Arts and entertainment topics that are good conversation starters include:

    • Are there any podcasts you love? 
    • What’s your favorite artwork? 
    • What makes you happy as an artist?
    • Where can I see your art?
    • What inspired your exhibition? 

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    Engaging in casual conversation is a valuable tool for cultivating relationships in professional settings. The weather is a universally accessible topic for small talk, as it piques the interest of nearly everyone. After considering these examples, feel free to explore further discussions related to the weather.

    • What’s the weather like today?
    • What’s the weather like in your country?
    • How’s the weather?
    • What’s the temperature today?
    • What’s the weather forecast?


    Creative Conversation Starters about Travel,

    • Did you try surfing, diving, etc.?
    • What’s the best “hidden gem” around here?
    • Where’s the last place you traveled? What did you do there?
    • What’s the next trip you have planned?

    Parties, concerts, other public or professional events

    Even if you missed the last corporate event, you can always inquire about your colleagues’ experiences. Good small talk topics might include discussions about the food, activities, amusing incidents, jokes, and post-party moments.

    On the other hand, if you’re someone who actively spends their weekends exploring various free-entry events, this is another avenue to explore in conversation. It’s best to avoid prying into overly personal matters and instead offer suggestions on how to enjoy your leisure time without breaking the bank. People appreciate relatable stories and are often eager to contribute from their own experiences. Here are some conversation starters, comments, and follow-up questions to use at your next social gathering:

    • That looks really good! What is it?”
    • “I love the way she decorated her place.”
    • “Your sweater is amazing. Where’d you get it?”
    • “It seems like you guys are really close. How long have you been together?”

    Sport and your physical activities

    If sports aren’t your cup of tea, consider your gym instructor who puts you through the paces to burn those stubborn calories. You don’t have to be a die-hard fan of a particular sports team, as you can engage in conversations about your physical activities, like yoga or even meditation practice. If you’re curious about what happens in yoga classes and why it’s so popular, don’t hesitate to seek insights. I’ve encountered some introverted individuals who are more than willing to share their yoga experiences and offer valuable tips on mastering various asanas. The following examples may provide you with insights on how to initiate small talk related to sports.

    • What sports do you enjoy playing?
    • What sports do you enjoy watching?
    • What sports have you been meaning to try?
    • Do you prefer solo or team sports?
    • What sports did you play growing up?
    • Do you do any sports with family or friends?

    Final thoughts

    While you can discover additional compilations of excellent small talk prompts online, it’s crucial to muster the confidence to initiate a conversation and capture your conversational partner’s interest. Feeling a bit reserved initially is perfectly normal, and it’s entirely acceptable. In fact, people are often more responsive when they sense that you’re making an effort to conquer any apprehension about engaging in small talk.

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    Find out your A1 A2 B1 B2 C1 C2 level of English with our quick, free online test.

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