Abruptly bringing up the weather should not be the last resort that you have to turn to when you feel at a loss for words among friends, family or any combination of the two. Social gatherings are delicately balanced environments, which have to be navigated with care. Talking about the weather in such a high-stakes situation is as good as dropping a dead fish on the table and making a Pisces joke.
Starting conversations, no matter where you are, be it a casual get-together in your neighborhood, an office party or a family dinner (with some people you have not even met before, adding to the stakes), should come to you as easily as breathing. But of course, the choice of what you say will, and should, heavily be influenced by the context. If you begin a conversation at a family dinner by explaining the nuances of Morpheus’ pince-nez spectacles and why he is the best person to have pulled them off in the lifetime of people wearing pince-nez, it will not go well.
Similarly, you cannot talk about the economic disarray of your country in front of your 5-year-old cousin, who anyway has only a handful of programmed responses. Now to be able to successfully navigate the deadly, crocodile-infested waters that is a conversation, you need to be ready. And in the interest of getting people ready for such a diverse sport (let’s be real, conversations might as well be a competitive sport at this point), here is a list of perfect conversation starters for any social situation:
Casual Conversation Starters
This is the most widespread type of conversation, be it at a bar, eating out with friends or just hanging out at home. One would think that it was easy to get into the flow of conversation with people you have known for years, but in reality, that is not the case. Sometimes, it can be as difficult as coming up with something to say to a new person, especially if you have been out of touch for a while. Here are some things that can be said in any situation, with friends old and new, or even just casual chatter at work:
1). Hey, what was the last movie you saw? Was it good? Tell me about it!
2). Did you see the latest episode of <insert favorite show>? I’ve been waiting for it for so long!
3). Can you suggest some podcasts? I’ve been wanting to listen to something lately but just cannot decide on what.
4). According to you (guys), what is the best show on Netflix right now? Why do you think it’s the best?
5). Did you hear the latest song by <insert artist here>? I cannot stop listening to it, it’s so good. I’ll probably get bored of it soon, but for now it’s definitely stuck inside my head. What do you (guys) think?
6). How are things at your job? Everything going well?
7). Alright, hit me with your strangest dream. I know you have something worth sharing!
8). What is the latest, most popular YouTube video you have seen?
9). How would you describe your perfect weekend? Would it be a beach getaway, with Pina Coladas and sunscreen? Or would it be a quiet cabin in the forests with nothing but the birds to keep you company? Or perhaps a more eventful one, like on a hiking trail?
10). Do you have a favorite number? Alright, hear me out. I know it sounds weird to ask, but deep in your heart, there is a favorite number. You just need to find it. So, what is it?
11). Do you prefer over-the-ear headphones or in-ear ones? I personally think that the in-ear ones are more comfortable.
12). Did you happen to see any good documentaries recently? I’ve been meaning to get into them, but have not found one interesting enough.
13). We’ve all got a bucket list, let’s not lie to ourselves. So, what are the top five things on your list?
14). This has been on my mind for a while now and I need to know; what do you think about pineapple on pizza? Think carefully before you answer this question because it may have unforeseen consequences.
15). What happened to Michael Cera? Did he just disappear off the face of the earth?
16). If you had to pick one food item from all the kinds that exist today in the universe, which one would you pick as your favorite? It cannot be something like Cheese or a singular item, it has to be something complex. As in made up of multiple parts and/or assembled and cooked.
17). What is one trend that is really popular right now that you absolutely don’t like?
18). How have your parents been doing? It’s been a while since I have seen them. I hope they are doing alright.
19). Do you have any pro tips on cooking?
20). What is the strangest, most awkward thing in your fridge right now? It is pizza with pineapple on it.
21). Tell me the truth, how many of your New Year’s resolutions have you actually kept? I will find it hard to believe if the number is in double digits.
22). Did you play the video game that came out last week? I have been dying to get my hands on it for months now, but they ran out of copies at the store. I am hearing good things about it.
23). What is the latest video game that you played?
24). When was the last time you spoke to <insert common friend/frenemy here> last? I have not heard from them in a while.
25). If you were given the chance to choose only one food to eat for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
Read also: Best Friend Tag Questions
Family Matters Conversation Starter Topics
We have established more or less what not to talk about when in a social gathering with family, but then what about the things that can, and definitely should, be mentioned at the start of a conversation when relatives and cousins are involved? Find out in this family friendly list, keeping in mind that these have been framed with a range of age groups in mind.
Some of the questions might even be similar to questions that you would ask your friends or acquaintances. So, if you see questions that you think would be weird to ask your great-aunt at your next meeting, be careful because it might not be appropriate for your great-aunt. But hey, who knows, it might lead to a great conversation anyway!
1). How is <insert common acquaintance/absentee family member> doing? It’s been such a long time since we last met!
2). Which other member of our family do you think you have the most similarity to? For that matter, which of the family members present here do you think I have the most similarity to?
3). In your opinion, who is the best cook in the family? You can whisper the answer to me, in case you want to stay out of trouble with the others.
4). What are a few things that were different when you were a child? How do you think that has affected me or my generation growing up, if at all?
5). What is the worst movie that you have ever seen in a theater? It cannot be something that you have seen at home, it has to be something that you went and paid money for!
6). Which actor/actress pair would you like to see pair up in an upcoming movie?
7). What is your favorite restaurant in this City? What kind of food do they have? I would love to go there with you someday!
8). I remember you used to play the <insert instrument>; do you still play it?
9). If given a minute or two to think back real hard, what would you say is your earliest memory? It does not have to be a happy one, just the earliest one.
10). If you were given the chance to move to a different place, anywhere in the world, to settle down, which place would you pick? Or would you rather not change where you live at all?
11). It has been such a long time since I have been to your place! You must tell me when you are free, I would love to visit sometime.
12). What was your favorite pass-time as a child? I am sure it must have been something wild! All we get around to doing is staring at our phones all day.
13). Think about it for a second and tell me: what is your most embarrassing memory? It can be anything, even something from yesterday. It’s only fair that other people have their secrets spilled at the table, why only me, right?
14). Do you still play that sport you used to play? If not, how are you keeping fit? It is important to stay active as you get older, you know.
15). Have you been on a vacation lately? It has been a while since my last one. Where did you go? Do you recommend it?
16). Are you still in touch with your friends from when you were a child? What was your reaction when some of them reached out through social media?
17). If you had to pick a theme song for yourself, which song would you pick?
18). Stand-up comedy has blown up in recent years. Do you have a particular comedian that you like listening to?
19). What is the one thing that you will not be able to live without?
20). We all have our role models in life; who was yours? Who had the most profound impact on you when you were growing up, maybe shaping your personality and life goals?
Family Matters: Kids Edition
1). What is the name of your favorite teacher? Why are they your favorite teacher? Is it because of the subject they teach or because of their personality?
2). Do you think aliens are real? What would you do if you saw one right now?
3). Who is your best friend? I know it’s difficult to decide that right now, but it is really important for you to know who your friends are.
4). I am sure you have been asked this question a million times before but what do you want to be when you grow up? You do not have to say astronaut, you can pick something else. Come on, be real with me. You want to be Batman when you grow up, don’t you?
5). If you were given the choice of turning into an animal for the rest of the day, which animal would you choose to become? Think hard and pick a fun one!
6). What is one thing you absolutely love about both of your parents? And in a more controversial turn of events, what is one thing you absolutely cannot stand about your parents?
7). Do you have a favorite sport? Who is your favorite sportsman? Would you like to become a professional in that sport some day?
8). I have a very important question for you right now, one that may decide how the evening/day will go. Think very carefully before you answer this, okay? Here it is: who is your favorite cartoon character? You can start with your favorite cartoon show in general and we can go from there, if you want.
9). What is the most fun activity in school according to you?
10). If you were given the power to erase one type of food from existence so that none of us ever had to eat it again, including you, of course, what would it be?
11). What is your favorite color? It’s okay if you have not decided one yet, we can work on that one together. What do you associate each color with?
12). Which insect are you most afraid of? Don’t worry, I promise to never use this information against you.
13). If you were given the choice to pick one superpower for an entire day, starting from the moment you wake up to when you fall asleep, which superpower would you pick?
14). You can talk about liking all subjects all you want, but I know that there is that one subject that you wish you never had to take. Which subject would you say that is? Do you have a subject that you would spend all your time on, instead of spreading it out between others?
15). Do you have a favorite season? Why is it your favorite? What do you like about it the most?
16). What do you think is the coolest looking car?
17). If you were asked to go live somewhere else at a moment’s notice, what is the one thing that you would absolutely have to bring with you? Something that you absolutely cannot live without?
18). If you got stuck on an island, which one book would you bring with you to keep you entertained till you were rescued?
19). If you’re into reading, what is your favorite genre of books? Do you like science fiction more than fantasy? Which one is your favorite?
20). What is your favorite Disney movie? Do you like that they are making live action remakes for the older ones?
Read also: How to Start A Conversation on Tinder?
Conversation Starters Related to Your Job/Workplace
This one is a little bit tricky, because you cannot be too random. Keeping the conversation on track is important, even if the theme of the event is “casual”; you never know who might be listening. Conversations are unique in that they can lead to the most unprecedented consequences from time to time, so it pays to be able to think on your feet.
Here is a list of a conversation starters to help you do that; that will make you feel at ease when you are in a situation that requires you to mingle:
1). We work on a variety of areas in our work; what is the most interesting one that you have worked on in recent times?
2). It can be difficult to hold on to your motivation day after day as you carry on with your life. What keeps you inspired/motivated to keep doing the same thing every day?
3). We hear people talk about doing what you love or not doing it at all, but there are times when you can learn to love what you do after the fact. Is that true for you? What do you love most about your job?
4). Tell me (us) about the strangest/funniest interview you have ever had. What was it for? I remember my first interview; I was so nervous!
5). Honestly, regardless of how your interview went, why do you think they hired you? What do you think they saw in you?
6). We all need a role model, someone to look up to as we make progress in our lives in our respective roles. Who would you say is your role model?
7). They say you learn something new every day. What is something that you have learned in your time working here, that you did not know before?
8). How do you set your career-related goals? How often do you update them?
9). Let’s be honest, there are a lot of things in this industry that could do with a makeover. But if you were given the power to choose just one of those things, which one would you choose? What one thing would you change about this industry?
10). I’m curious, does your career lead to travel? If yes, do you consider yourself lucky or is it just a hassle for you? What is the coolest place you have visited?
11). Do you think there will ever be a day when all work emails have been read? I try day after day to get through them as well as I can but it just seems like an insurmountable task!
12). Life is nothing without challenges, right? In that vein, what is the biggest career-related challenge that you have undertaken this year, and overcome?
13). There are moments when there is nothing but dislike for your job. In those moments, what is the one thing that you find most frustrating about it?
14). I know we have all been asked this question in one interview or the other: where do you see yourself in the next five or ten years? Looking back at that interview, does your past vision of yourself match your current version? Are you where you want to be, five or ten years in the future?
15). Technology has come a long way since its inception. Which technological innovation would you say has impacted your life in the biggest way?
16). What would you say is a must-have skill for someone to survive in this industry?
17). How important do you think it is to take breaks?
18). Working with a wide range of people who are different from you is never easy but would you say you have been able to reconcile some of the differences and make friends as you have worked in the industry?
19). If you were given a chance to correct one mistake that you made in the past, which one would it be?
20). If you could re-establish this industry in a different time period, which one would you choose to do so? Why do you think that it would be a good idea to shift the industry to that time period?
21). What is a really minor perk that your job comes with but is really convenient and satisfying to have?
22). What would you say is your best, most unforgettable memory with your coworkers?
23). Imagine that a hundred years have passed. What do you think you will be remembered for?
24). What is the strangest/funniest thing that has happened to you in the workplace?
25). If you were given the power to make permanent changes with respect to the policies in your workplace, which two things would you focus on?
Free for all Conversation Starters Topics
Coming up with good icebreakers can end up breaking your mind, and nobody wants that to happen. Meeting new people is an exciting experience but can often lead to immense social anxiety. As a result of this pressure, you might end up saying something awkward or something that you might regret later, potentially ruining a new friendship.
But not to worry, here we have a list of things that you can keep in mind to avoid getting into situations like that:
1). Do you have any pets? Would you consider yourself a dog person or a cat person?
2). Would you say if I asked you whether you believe in ghosts or not? Answer honestly.
3). You seem like a person who gets things done in life. What has been your most successful achievement so far?
4). There are a lot of things we wish that we could do but never get around to or get a chance to. What is one such thing that you wish you could do, but will never be able to?
5). What is the most significant risk that you have taken in your life till date?
6). We all need someone in our lives who gives good advice, which is worth listening to. Do you have someone like that? If yes, what is the most valuable piece of advice that they have given you?
7). If you had to pick one person who has influenced you the most, who would it be? It can be anyone in your family, your workplace or even a role model that you look up to.
8). People nowadays are afraid to share their opinions in fear of being labeled controversial. Setting aside those inhibitions, what do you think is the most controversial opinion you have?
9). We all remember Master Oogway’s quote about the past, present and the future. The future may be a mystery, but that doesn’t stop us from thinking about it. What is the one thing that terrifies you the most about our future?
10). Would you rather stay home on the weekend or go out with your friend? If it is the latter, where would you go? What would be your perfect weekend outing?
11). If you were given the opportunity to cook lunch for one celebrity, who would you pick?
12). If time travel was real, would you go back to the past to change something that you did or to warn yourself about something? Or are you of the belief that our mistakes are an integral part of us and we would not be the same without them?
13). How do you think your life would have been different if you had been born in a different era?
14). Why do you think there is such a profound lack of new content in the cinematic world today, as they just expand or reboot older, famous franchises instead of coming up with new ones?
15). Have you ever cheated on a test? Have you ever been caught while trying to cheat on a test? What were the consequences?
16). What is your favorite band? Why do you like their music more than others?
17). What is your ultimate stress-busting technique?
18). If given the choice between cooking a meal and ordering out, which one would you pick?
19). Which one would you pick, if given the choice between an expensive car or an expensive house?
20). Have you ever saved someone’s life?
21). What are your opinions about extraterrestrial life? Do you think there are similar star systems like ours out there in the ever-expanding universe? If yes, do you think we will ever be able to communicate with them someday?
22). Are you still in touch with your best friend from school?
23). What is one thing that everyone thinks is normal in society but you absolutely cannot stand? It can be a rule or a habit or a custom, anything.
24). Do you think wealth is an adequate measure for success? Or do you think there could be more to it?
25). If given the chance to learn one thing about your future, would you accept the opportunity? If yes, what would you choose to learn?
26). What do you think is the most ridiculous fear that you have, that other people find silly?
27). What is one thing that you must absolutely accomplish before you die?
28). Do you have a favorite room in your house?
29). What do you think is the greatest smell in the world? Why do you find it as desirable as you do?
30). If you had to pick something that you consider yourself the best at, what would it be?
31). Every single one of us has a strange, absolutely ridiculous and completely useless talent. What is yours?
32). Tell me about the strangest conspiracy theory that you have heard and just cannot get out of your head.
33). How hard do you find it to control the urge to spend money on things you could really do without?
34). Would you be able to call a work of art bad while the artist was standing right in front of you?
35). If given the choice between calling and texting, which one would you pick and why?
36). How late do you stay up at night?
37). What do you think is the one thing from your childhood that has aged properly? Something that you have not lost interest in to this day?
38). Do you have a fear that you know full well is irrational but can do nothing about?
39). Alright, I’m ready for it. Hit me with the worst pickup line you have ever heard or one that has ever been used on you.
40). What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? Do you check your phone or do you do something else?
41). If you were given the opportunity to ask for one single miracle, what would you ask for?
42). What is your strangest 3 AM thought?
43). According to you, what is the funniest/strangest gift you have ever received, be it for a birthday, anniversary or any other occasion?
44). Nobody likes chores but there is that one particular chore that makes your life hell. Which chore would you say does that for you?
45). If you were given the chance to trade places with one family member for an entire day, who would you pick? What would you do differently?