The Secret of Small Talk

I’m going to share with you the secret that got me through four years of accounting society recruiting events and a battery ‘social situation’ interviews. I’ve got more practice making small talk now, but I still occasionally revert to my cheat sheet at the seemingly endless social and business occasions that come with bona fide adulthood.

You already know the secret. In fact, you’d probably learned it by the 3rd grade. But your teacher didn’t know it was the secret social etiquette weapon, she just thought she was teaching you to write a newspaper article. Yes, my secrets out: the 5 W’s will save your hide every time. Any time you find your self struggling for something to say to a total stranger over the din of discomfort at a networking event, just whip out a W.

Who do you know here?
Who on the panel is your favorite?
Who do you like in the series/final/bowl?
Who do you think is the worst celebrity train wreck this year?

What is your favorite reality TV show?
What is the last book you’ve read?
What is the best part about these things?
What do you like best about living here?

Where are you from?
Where are the best seats?
Where would you rather be?
Where is the best/worst place you’ve ever traveled?

When did you get into your business?
When did you last come to one of these?
When do you think kids should be allowed to drive?
When is the best time to ask your boss for a raise?

Why did you decide to come today?
Why did you choose your profession?
How are these functions important to your business?
How do you manage your email inbox?

I’m sure you can come up with much better questions. The idea is to keep these 5 W’s in your pocket and pull one out whenever you cannot grasp a single thing to say. A friend of mine has been using What is your favorite reality TV show? for a while now with great success. It’s fun, frivolous, and tells you a lot about a person!