6 ways to turn small talk into real talk


Bring thoughtful, open-ended questions to the table. Your prompts can help shape the conversation at hand. If your delivery is honest and curious, you’ll be met with an equally forthright response.

Be patient.

It’s common to feel nervous, get antsy, want to head for the door or look for a new group. The juice comes after the squeeze. Stay where you are. Be present. You don’t need to work the room. A handful of intimate conversations may be more valuable than a dozen superficial pleasantries.

Get vulnerable.

Approach topics that may feel “too close for comfort.” Reveal parts of yourself. Talk passion. Divulging unknown talents and interests will encourage others to do the same.

Tailor your environment.

Your setting can impact your chatter. In a crowded room? Pull a stranger outside or find a quiet corner. Use elements of your setting to feel comfortable and at ease. Find the space that works for you.


If you notice you’re fidgety, have a seat and relax. Smile. You don’t need to force anything. Be genuine. Be you. You’ll attract deeper conversations when you’re feeling settled and grounded.

Lead by example.

Set the pace for where the conversation will head. Answer questions with compelling details instead of generic responses. Talk about things that matter. The people who aren’t interested will leave. That’s OK.