Starting and keeping small talk going is not as trivial a pursuit as you think it is. It’s a skill that needs to develop, especially if your job entails you to much socializing. Here are a couple of suggestions on how to be good at conducting small talk:
Prepare. Being good at small talk means you have to to know a lot about a lot of things. Read newspapers and pay attention to current events. Focus on movies, books, and social events.Be aware of controversial issues just to keep abreast of what’s going on around you, but do not broach the subject during social gatherings as it may open an unpleasant can of worms.
Observe. A lot can be said about a particular person just by looking at them and at how they talk. You can start a conversation by praising someone for even as trivial as shoes. “That is a nice pair of shoes. Where did you get them?” Of course, you’d also have to learn more about body language. Would the other person find small talk with a stranger weird? Is this person uncomfortable with the topic we’re discussing? Know who your audience will be. If it’s a fund raising event for an environmental cause, then start reading up on issues and facts about the particular cause.
Practice. Like any skill, making good small talk requires practice. Start small. If you are at a waiting area in let’s say, a doctor’s clinic, you can try to chat with the person next to you. Mind your people reading skills and always be tactful and stay on safe and neutral topics. Don’t give too much information and don’t ask too much personal questions either. You don’t want to scare the other person away now, do you?