This Introverts Guide To Small Talk.
and 5 questions to start up small talk.
The thought of going to an event or party where I do not know anyone fills me with dread. I am incredibly shy and find it hard to start small talk with people I do not know. My shyness is often misconstrued as being standoffish, it does not help that I naturally have RBF (Resting Bitch Face)
Often my shyness makes me blurt out the most random thing, or I overthink all my responses and stress about coming off as stupid.
1. Firstly, stay away from the alcohol! I have made this fatal mistake a few times, the “Dutch courage” isn’t making you wittier. You can have a glass or two but know your limit.
2. Find the host if you know them or go introduce yourself (you have been invited to this event, you are wanted here and welcome).
3. Be punctual. Nothing is scarier than being late for an event. You will arrive flustered and that will set the tone for the rest of the evening.
4. Wear something that is comfortable but makes you feel good (if you look good, you automatically feel more confident). Add an interesting pair of earrings, scarf or shoes that will be a conversation starter. Get others to start the conversation.
5. On arrival thank the host for inviting you. Ask them to introduce you to their clients / Boss/ friend (depending on what the event is about. By introducing you, they have already taken away the awkward/scary part and you can launch into conversation)
If you know the host, ask them to introduce you to another guest. They will usually introduce you to someone that you have something in common or someone that is friendly.
6. Look people in the eye. Introverts seem to shift their eye contact. Tip: when talking to someone try remembering their eye colour.
7. Keep busy. I often ask the host if they need help with anything (setting up or taking food out to the party) Keeping busy makes it less awkward
8. Avoid yes/no answers. If you ask a question, ask an open-ended question that the person can’t answer with a simple yes or a no. Same for you don’t answer with a simple yes or no (that indicated the conversation is over) embellish on your answer. “No, I have never been here before, but I love the unique décor / love the view”.
9. Friends make friends. If you have a friend or colleague who is also attending the event, see if you can get a ride with them to the event. You will already feel at ease. Then you can piggyback off them for a while as they introduce you to people.
10. Have an exit strategy. Always have a good excuse because you have to leave. I store one in advance. If the event gets too much and I find myself overwhelmed, I can leave quickly.
11. Find a quiet spot. At the beginning of a party or event, scope out a little quiet area where you can escape and breathe. Fresh air will help you centre yourself. Once you have recharged your introvert batteries, go join the party. Often at events, I have started talking to the person who is also hiding, and we have had great conversations.
12. Smile. I know it's hard but try a little. You will seem more approachable.
13. Be prepared. If this is a work function. I do a little research before I go. I learn the CEO or important peoples names. is the company up for any awards or gained a new big client? Example: Going to a event, where the guest of honour is an author. Find out what books they have written, have they won any awards and find out why they are being honoured. Being knowledgeable about the topic will help you come up with questions and feel prepared if someone asks you a question.
14. Look for other lost Souls. At work events, I look for someone who also looks a bit lost. I then ask them if they know anyone else at the event. If they also don't know anyone, you introduce yourself and ask if they want to sit with you or walk in together.
Here are 5 questions to start up small talk.
1. Ask about someone’s job or family? The tip here is to get
the other person talking.
2. “How do you know x ?” (at a wedding or friends party)
3. “This Chocolate cake is amazing, have you had any” (people love food. Talk about the food on the plate or on the tray. Food is a universal topic. The person will reply that they either love/hate it or will say they are vegan or don’t eat it for health reasons. You can then ask them what they do love to eat …
4. “I love you necklace! “Compliment them on something they are wearing. This can be anything a bracelet or an interesting necklace. Usually, these have good stories behind them. I once got into a long conversation with a man, when I said his tattoo was interesting. He told me it was his design and was the history of his family.
5. “where are you from?” This may be evident from their accent. This opens more conversations. You may have been to their hometown/country or they may have just moved to your town.
If they are a local and lived in the area for a while ask them “ do you have a favourite local restaurant?”
If they are from another country, ask them why they moved here and what are the biggest difference between here and their hometown/country.
If all else fails. Ask yourself “What would Beyonce do?”