15 Small Talk Questions Perfect For Work Events

Small talk – everyone’s least favorite social activity. Until you hack it, that is. Once you have mastered a solid list of conversation starters, you will be the small talk queen.

By Paula Gallagher2 min read
Pexels/cottonbro studio

As Olivia Rodrigo put it, "I stumbled over all my words. I made it weird, I made it worse. Each time I step outside, it's social suicide." If this ballad cut you as deep as it did us, we've got some tools for you.

When you think of small talk, you probably think of an uncomfortable conversation filled with awkward pauses you once had with a random friend of a friend at a get-together. And the haunting memory of that awkwardness has made you dread all other instances where small talk would be required, like work events, where you can’t really hide behind your phone because that would be rude and unprofessional. 

I'm here to provide you with a list of conversation starters that are personal enough to be interesting yet professional enough to pull out in the break room and your office Christmas party. They are open-ended questions that should provide you with enough information that you can use to base another question on. These questions also avoid potentially hurtful topics like infertility and child loss (yeah, asking if they have kids is a big no-no) or controversial topics like politics and religion. So let’s get to them!

  1. What keeps you busy outside of work?

  2. What are you reading or listening to right now?

  3. Is there a book you’ve read more than three times? Why?

  4. Do you have any travel plans for the holidays/the summer/next year?

  5. Where is the most beautiful place you’ve ever been to?

  6. How/why did you pick your college major?

  7. Have you tried out anything new recently, like a recipe or a restaurant?

  8. Is there a skill or hobby you would like to learn but haven’t yet?

  9. Did you grow up in this area?

  10. If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you would buy or do?

  11. What’s one thing that brings you joy right now?

  12. What’s your most memorable birthday?

  13. What’s an experience you thought was going to be awful that turned out to be amazing?

  14. What childhood show would you like to see rebooted?

  15. Who is your favorite entertainer? Have you ever seen them perform live?

Keep these questions in mind for your next work lunch – you’ll feel more confident knowing you can keep a conversation going no matter who you end up sitting next to. And who knows, you may even develop a reputation for being a great conversationalist!

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