The story of how I ended up in radio is always so fun to tell because most people don’t know I went to school to become an accountant. I loved the idea of sitting behind a desk and working with numbers and making great money. So how on earth did I wind up here? Well I guess you could say small talk had something to do with it. I was talking with a co-worker’s husband at a dinner one night and asked him about himself. He told me about his job as a radio station manager and as I asked more questions, I became more interested. One thing led to another and here I am today.
Small talk doesn’t come easy to a lot of people though. Are you the type to stand in a group of people and just stay silent? What about going to Business After Hours or other professional social engagements? Do you stand in the corner and chat with the same two co-workers you arrived with? Don’t feel bad if this is you. This is me sometimes too and it’s a lot of people. The problem is if you aren’t good at small talk, you could miss out on an opportunity.
So here are some great tips on getting better at small talk:
1. Ask open-ended questions, not yes-or-no questions. It gives you more to go on, so it’s easier to ask follow-up questions.
2. Tell stories. Look for opportunities to drop in an anecdote. Like if they mention they’re planning to go scuba diving on vacation, jump in with a story about the time YOU tried it. Things like that create a quick bond and make it easier to talk more.
3. Pay attention to people who are good at small talk. Like friends, or even talk show hosts. Think about the type of questions they ask, and how they move the conversation in different directions.
4. If the conversation isn’t going anywhere, be honest. If you find yourself just talking about the weather, it’s okay to say you HATE small talk. Then ask if they want to talk about something more substantial. Just make sure you have a good topic ready.
Here are some more great tips to get better at small talk!