125 Conversation Starters That Make You Instantly Interesting
Initiating small talk is tough, but these conversation starters will get the discussion flowing no matter the situation
Conversation starters to get anyone talking
Over half of all Americans report having some anxiety around social situations, and 12% of the population gets anxious enough to meet the criteria for Social Anxiety Disorder, according to data from the National Institute of Mental Health. Regardless of which end of the spectrum you fall on, making small talk can be a challenging conversation skill (especially if you’re an introvert!). But there will come a time—at a party, waiting for a meeting to begin, mingling at a networking event, on a date or at a family reunion—when you will need some good conversation starters.
What makes a good conversation starter?
A large part of social anxiety stems from worrying about knowing the “right” thing to say and stressing over saying the wrong thing (foot, meet mouth). Coming up with a formula for conversation starters can help you feel more comfortable in social settings while avoiding any of the major conversation land mines—think religion, politics, how much money a person makes, certain phrases when discussing race and questions about whether a woman is pregnant.
A good conversation starter will often include at least a few of these things:
- A compliment (but avoid commenting on other people’s bodies!)
- A request for an opinion or help with a small matter
- A shared interest
- A tasteful joke or self-deprecating humor
- An open-ended question
- A pop culture tidbit
- A little silliness
- An item of trivia or a riddle
- A slightly personal question (ask about pets or careers, not romantic partners)
The second key is to practice. Conversation skills, like politely ending a conversation and avoiding rude conversation habits, are things you can learn. Make time to role-play discussions with a friend, or try some conversation starters out in a lower-stakes scenario.
Ready to be a better speaker? Here are some ideas that will not only reduce your social anxiety but also make you instantly interesting to others—perhaps even the life of the party!
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Good conversation starters
1. How long have you lived here, and where are you from?
2. Oh, I love your shoes! What made them stand out to you?
3. What is your favorite thing to do or see in this city?
4. What was the last trip you went on?
5. Hey, I was told you have great taste—could I ask your opinion on scarves?
6. I’m thinking of buying a new car. Any recommendations?
7. What’s the best thing that’s happened to you so far today?
8. Have you ever been here before?
9. I’m really excited to see the _______ concert. What are you up to this weekend?
10. Did you see the Grammys/Super Bowl/Oscars/Met Gala/World Cup? What did you think?
11. What’s a good tip to remember your name?
12. What do you like best about your job? What’s one thing you wish people understood about it?
13. I always get so nervous at these types of events, and I’m never sure what to say. What are your favorite conversation starters?
Knowing how to read body language is just as important as arming yourself with the right conversation starters, so make sure you know the signs before your next big event.
Deep conversation starters
14. If you could learn any foreign language, which one would you pick and why?
15. Tell me your strangest glitch-in-the-matrix moment.
16. What’s something about your field that people often get wrong?
17. What’s the last book you read?
18. What’s on your mind right now? What’s in your heart?
19. My favorite podcast is _______. What’s yours?
20. What do you do for work? How did you choose that career?
21. If you could go back and relive any year of your life, which would it be?
22. When’s the last time you cried?
23. What was your dream job in kindergarten? Would you do that if you had the chance now?
24. What wakes you up in the middle of the night?
25. Who has made the biggest difference in your life?
26. What’s your family like?
27. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
28. What’s your favorite TED talk?
Don’t worry about using fancy words to sound smarter. Thoughtful questions and attentive listening will draw others in.
Conversation starters for couples
29. What do you remember about how we met?
30. What’s something I can do to help you today?
31. What’s your favorite restaurant?
32. What’s your favorite hobby to do with me? To do alone?
33. How do you feel about pickleball: fun bonding activity or a rest stop on the way to divorce court?
34. Is there anything you want to talk about that we haven’t been able to discuss lately?
35. What is your top love language? Mine is _______.
36. What is your favorite pet name for me? For you?
37. What’s the best date night we’ve ever had?
38. What’s a childhood memory you’ve never told me about?
39. What chore do you hate the most? Which one do you hate the least?
40. What’s your biggest fear right now?
41. What are you most looking forward to doing in our golden years?
Keep the conversation going by sending these flirty texts to your partner.
Funny conversation starters
42. What are your feelings about Pi Day as a reason to celebrate pie—not math?
43. How many seasons of The Office have you seen, and why is Dwight your favorite character?
44. Small talk makes me nervous! Which is worse: me trying and sticking my foot in my mouth or us standing here awkwardly in silence?
45. If you could add any weird holiday to the calendar what would it be?
46. How would you describe your style in middle school?
47. What hill are you absolutely willing to die on, no matter what anyone else says? (Mine is that syrup has to be refrigerated to be good!)
48. What’s something that you used to hate but now love?
49. Pick one: skydiving, bungee jumping or scuba diving. How much would you pee your pants?
50. If you were a celebrity, would you be the kind who hides from the paparazzi or calls them every time you take a walk?
51. What is your silent act of defiance?
52. What’s the best bumper sticker you’ve ever seen?
Best conversation starters
53. What online purchase have you most regretted?
54. What’s the best food you’ve eaten this week? This year? Your entire life?
55. How did you meet your significant other?
56. What decade was your personal best for fashion?
57. What’s the strangest news story that’s stuck with you?
58. What’s your favorite little-known life hack?
59. What’s one thing you swore you would never do but then did?
60. What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever seen in person?
61. What TV show do you love but never admit to watching?
62. What’s something you lost that you’d still really like to find?
63. What’s the best bad movie you’ve ever seen?
Make sure you’re paying attention to the other person’s body language during a conversation. It can let you know if you’re giving off a bad vibe.
Tinder conversation starters
64. Which playlist have you listened to the most?
65. What is your pettiest pet peeve?
66. What’s the strangest thing you’ve impulse-bought off social media in the middle of the night?
67. If I googled you, what’s the first thing I’d find?
68. Guess what I’m wearing.
69. What’s your signature dance move?
70. What’s the worst pickup line anyone has ever used on you?
71. Tell me some of your favorite couples costumes.
72. What’s your guilty pleasure?
73. Can we skip small talk and go straight to the flirting?
74. What’s one song lyric that always resonates with you?
Don’t love any of the above? Use one of these epic Tinder pickup lines.
Conversation starters for teens
75. If you were in charge of the playlist for the party, which song would you play first?
76. What’s your plan for the zombie apocalypse?
77. What’s your favorite piece of jewelry, and who gave it to you?
78. What’s your least favorite family activity?
79. If you had to live one holiday every day for the rest of your life, would you rather do Christmas or Halloween?
80. Do you believe in ghosts or aliens?
81. What’s the first movie you remember watching?
82. Are you a lyrics person or a beat person?
83. What was your favorite show when you were a little kid, and why was it My Little Pony?
84. Tell me one major you’d never pick in college.
85. Which gets poured first into the bowl: milk or cereal?
Looking for more ideas? Begin with a silly joke for teens.
Fun conversation starters
86. If you put your contact into my phone, what emoji would you pick to go next to your name?
87. If you could be any breed of dog, which one would you be?
88. What’s your favorite piece of little-known trivia?
89. My all-time favorite movie is _______. Which movies make your top five?
90. What’s the pettiest thing you’ve done to get revenge?
91. What is a fact that everyone “knows” but isn’t actually true?
92. Favorite movie quote: Go!
93. What was your favorite Halloween costume ever?
94. What’s the best how-to video you’ve ever watched on YouTube?
95. What’s your favorite decade for clothes? Music? Movies?
96. You only have one day: Disneyland or Universal Studios?
Here’s another tactic for getting the conversation flowing: Open with a fascinating and fun fact.
Conversation starters for dating
97. If you could design a signature cocktail, what would you name it, and what would the recipe be?
98. I have a comfy, oversized hoodie just waiting for you to borrow.
99. What is the worst book you’ve ever read?
100. I’m going to grab a drink. Can I get you something?
101. What’s the most important thing you want me to know about you?
102. What’s the worst date you’ve ever been on?
103. What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to try but never have?
104. What trend do you wish would die?
105. What movie would be better with sharks?
106. You have the day off work—what’s your favorite thing to do?
Does your date have a good sense of humor? Try one of these cheesy pickup lines.
Conversation starters for texting
107. Text me a GIF that makes you laugh out loud every time you see it.
108. Some emojis have dual meanings. What’s your favorite?
109. What’s your personal theme song?
110. Are your houseplants real or plastic?
111. What food are you craving right this second?
112. What was the first concert you ever went to?
113. I’m down to 1% battery, but I’m using it to text you.
114. What’s your zodiac sign, and do you believe in astrology?
115. Meeting you was the best part of my day… so what was the best part of yours?
116. Guess which emoji I put next to your name in my phone.
You can use these for group texting too!
Interesting conversation starters
117. If you suddenly didn’t need to work, what would you do?
118. How do you define success?
119. Who’d play you in the movie of your life?
120. A spaceship is leaving to colonize Mars. Do you go?
121. What’s a lesson you learned the hard way?
122. If you could time travel, when and where would you go?
123. Who do you still hold a grudge against?
124. What advice would you give your 10-year-old self?
125. What’s a world problem you wish you could solve?
Some conversations sail along smoothly. Others take a bumpier road, so be sure you know how to talk to people even if you disagree.
- National Institute of Mental Health: “Social Anxiety Disorder”