Twelve ideas for starting a conversation in English

Have you ever noticed how most sociable, outgoing people use the same conversation openers time after time? If you’re slightly intimidated by walking into a party or networking event where you don’t know many people, it’s a good idea to have a few stock ice-breakers under your belt. Here’s a few to get you started.

Keep it simple, it’s often the best way:

1. “Hi, I don’t know many people here, do you mind if I introduce myself?” – straightforward and it works.

2. “So what brought you here today?”

3. “How’s your day going?”

4. “So what do you do?” – get them talking about themselves (always good) and you’ve also got time to figure out what to say next as well as listening for some common ground)

If you’re somewhere where there’s a buffet you can say something like

5. “I can’t stop eating these biscuits, have you tried them?”

6. “Have you tried the (sandwiches), they look really good!”

7. “While we’re both standing here waiting to get something to eat I thought I should introduce myself, I’m …….

Great for networking events:

8. “I’m kind of overwhelmed by all this information they’re giving us, tell me, any particular things stand out for you?”

9. “This is a great venue. Have you been here before?”

Use the news: if there’s some big news story going on you can refer to it with something like:

10. Did you catch the news today? I’m trying to keep up with (insert news story) and I missed it.

Sports: especially with men.

11. “Hey, did you catch the game?” (US) or “Do you know what the score was with (insert sporting event that happened that day – there’s nearly always a football game on somewhere)?” (UK)

Even if they just say, “I don’t like sports”, it’s a place to go to from there. (you could even say something like “Me neither to be honest, but it’s usually a good way to start a conversation” – honesty can work well too!

12. “Hey, aren’t you friends with (name of someone you might know).”

It doesn’t matter if they’re not, and it doesn’t even matter if you don’t think they are, even if they say ‘no’ it’s a way to start a conversation.

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