52 Conversation Topics You Can Actually Use for Good Conversation
Ever started a conversation, only to have it dry up like water in a hot desert? I’m sure you have many times if you’re shy like the old me. In a group, you’re seen as quiet, but one-on-one it is awkward when you run out of things to say. Is the solution to come up with good conversation topics?
A well-oiled list of conversation topics ready to roll out is only one part of what matters to have a good conversation – it isn’t your complete solution to make friends and influence people. You can have fun talking about paper to a friend because good conversation is more than topics. Work on listening, positive body language, and your personality seen below (as well as other skills not listed):
|Eye contact||Reading eyes||Playfulness|
Use the conversation subjects you’re about to discover with other conversation skills for the best results! If you’re over the standard enquirying about someone’s weekend, commenting on the weather, and asking “How are you?”, here’s my top list of conversation topics to keep a good conversation going. Some are deep, some are light, and all are real topics you can use that help you come up with your own.
Business Conversation Topics
1. Current News Stories
Eye the latest news stories relating to your industry. Signup to an RSS reader, visit your industry’s best blogs, then add their RSS feed to your reader. You instantly get updated with new articles and can scan topics useful for conversation.
In your RSS reader, you can even setup separate categories to easily monitor sites covering fun topics, international issues (amazing tip for when you’re about to travel overseas!), and client industry news. When it comes to talking about these topics, you impress people as an expert if you reference where the news came from.
2. The Economy
The economy affects business, for good or for bad. Professionals often discuss how the economy is affecting their company. Be careful not to turn the conversation to personal finance; discussing your own money is crude. Read up on stock markets, interest rates, and other factual information.
3. Ask for Advice
Anything from “Can you show me how to use the photocopier?” to “Can you give me some tips on managing the finance department?” gives a co-worker pride. Few resist the call for help. Show you genuinely appreciate their advice by listening, nodding, and thanking. Conversation will flow.
4. Industry Trends
Has your company changed something it does? Companies update their technology, modify a policy, or introduce new fun days at work (well, the lucky ones do). Discuss the pros and cons – comparing to other businesses, e.g. “I don’t like our new company policy on food at desks. What’s your opinion?” “What do you think of parallax web design?” “I developed an app for the new Mozilla platform the other day. It’s surprisingly simple.”
Few resist the call for help.
5. Professional Development
Those who want to develop themselves may read books and attend events to help get ahead. Asking “What are the most influential business/motivational books you’ve ever read?” could lead into a discussion of self-help, famous motivational speakers, and cool habits to develop.
6. Personal History and Goals
It’s the past and present of one’s life. If you want to know someone outside the business setting, ask “How did you get started in the industry?” You learn more about people this way, and get to discussing ambitions, goals, and the person’s past. Prepare to share your story. Giving is as important as taking to keep a good conversation going.
Dinner Conversation Topics
7. The Latest Movies or Books
Nearly everybody watches movies, is into a TV show, or reads books. Ask people for their favorite and what they’re currently into. If you haven’t seen the movie or read the book they mention, ask about it with interest!
Whether you talk to a world traveler or someone who doesn’t have a passport, everyone loves traveling. Ask about their most memorable holiday, compare where you’ve been, tell a funny experience with foreigners, or share where you’d like to go.
9. The Pros/Cons of Their Jobs
Most people can talk about their jobs for hours. Some may tell you how wonderful their current workplace. Even if someone hates their job, they’re usually happy to let off steam about their annoying boss. Start with “What do you like most about your job?” or “How did you get into it?”
When sharing stuff about your job, describe it in a way the person will understand by relating it to their experience. “When I get a call from XYZ supplier, I know it’s not going to be good. They’re like a grumpy customer you see that you want to avoid.”
10. “If the world was about to end…”
A question like “What would you do if the world was going to end in 24 hours?” can bring up some interesting answers. Try it with a large group of people. A less morbid example is: “If you could do anything you wanted for one day, with no consequences, what would you do?”
11. The Celebrity Guest List
A classic question: “If you could invite anyone, alive or dead, to your dinner party, who would it be and why?” This leads to discussions about various people in the public eye; great if you don’t have any mutual friends or interests…yet!
At a dinner party, food is on everyone’s mind. Ask what recipes people like to cook, which cuisines they’ve tried, and what restaurants they recommend. Just don’t unfavorably compare the host’s dinner to something else! It’s good social etiquette.
13. The Olden Days…
Share games you use to play as kids, which TV shows you liked, and the adventures you had. It’s great conversation fuel for people over 20 years old. If someone is hesitant to participate, they may have had a bad childhood so don’t force their input. You can also discuss how different things are now from when you were a child, e.g. “Imagine what it would have been like if we’d all had cell phones! When my mom wanted to find me, she’d…”
Funny Conversation Topics
14. Embarrassing Stories
If you’re with a group of friends, sharing embarrassing stories can cause a lot of laughs. You can compare moments of embarrassment in public, drunken blunders, or dating encounters that went wrong. You can also share stories you’ve heard from other people.
15. The People Around You
Look at the people walking by (great if you’re in public) and try guessing facts about them. You can even say that the person with the most interesting interpretation “wins”, e.g. “Look at that guy run! He’s just remembered his girlfriend left her hair clip on his bed, and his wife’s nearly home!” “I think he left the waffle iron on. Everyone loves waffles.”
16. Crazy Comments by Kids
If you’re with a group of friends who have kids (or you’re all teachers), exchange stories about the funny things your kids say and do. There’s probably always something weird, funny, or scarily smart to share.
17. Worst Dates
Ask your friends about the worst date they’ve ever been on. Make sure you have a couple of funny stories of your own to share (without naming anyone). For more ideas, think of awkward situations to be in, but are now funny. These are great to talk about.
18. “What kind of old person would you like to be?”
An interesting question, bound to bring a smile to people’s faces (it’s unexpected). Although many won’t have thought about it before, they’re sure to have an opinion.
Yes, you can sit around exchanging the funniest jokes you’ve heard. If you’re into comedy, you can discuss the best comedies or stand-up comedians you’ve seen. Try to learn a couple of their jokes to share.
20. Weird Comparisons
For example – “If you were any animal, which animal would you be?” It sounds childish, but can work with anyone. Get people to explain their choice. In a big group of friends, your friends can tell you which animal you’d be, before switching to the next person.
21. Truth and Lies
More of an ice-breaking game. The idea is that everyone gives three statements about themselves – one is true, and two are lies. The other people have to work out which is true. The more interesting or funny the statements, the better.
Conversation Topics for Dates
22. Their Goals and Dreams
Many people enjoy talking about themselves. Try questions like “What job would you really love to do?” to let your date open up. If you get your date opening up about their dreams and ambitions, while being encouraging and supportive, they will feel relaxed around you and value you as a great listener.
23. The Movie You Just Saw
Works after a cinema date or DVD. Ask what they thought of the movie, compare to similar movies, and ask what kind of movies they normally like.
24. All-time Favorites
“What’s your all-time favorite movie/song/book/food?” This gets your date to open up and feel you are interested. It can also lead to suggestions of follow up dates, e.g. “What, you haven’t seen Grease? I’ll have to show it to you sometime!”
25. Funny Things
Laughter is a sign things are going well (unless it’s at you… even then). Try “What kinds of things really make you laugh?” to find out more and turn the topic to funny things. Goofy questions like “Which creature would you most like to be for the day?” can break the ice with some dates.
“What are you really passionate about?” When people discuss their passions, you see who they really are. This gives you a good idea about your date. They will also be impressed when you talk about your own passions, as this is something you talk about easily that lights you up in an attractive way.
27. Travel Bucket List
“Which five places do you most want to visit?” Great for travelers. Comparing places you’ve been and want to go can spark a lot of conversation, and travel stories can be very attractive – especially if you’ve done something fascinating and you’re a good storyteller.
28. What You’re Looking For
Be careful with this one. If you can charmingly ask your date to describe what they’re looking for in a man/woman, it can go one of two ways. You might realize they’re not right for you, or you might get an insight into what to do. This can also lead to funny stories about bad dates.
Dating tip: This is a time to get to know each other, but it’s best to avoid controversial topics where you might disagree. Keep topics light and fun, but throw some unusual questions in there, as many dates involve the same questions over and over. Take things they mention about their lives and expand on them, e.g. “Oh, you mentioned you went to school in Chicago – what did you study?” This could lead to a discussion about universities, the subject is particular, or the city. Relate their experiences back to yourself, but remember this isn’t all about you looking interesting – people like to feel valued. Be interested in your date’s passions, hobbies, and experiences.
Conversation Topics with Women
Ask a woman what her hobbies are to get a better idea of good conversation topics. Let her tell you about a hobby she’s really into, and ask questions about it.
Many women love giving advice and solving problems, although spilling your problems is better on a potential friend rather than a date. Mention an interesting problem a friend has been having – nothing too serious. Annoying bosses, co-workers, or dating disasters are good topics.
31. Hopes and Aspirations
A lot of women have big ambitions these days, and sharing them with supportive friends can make them feel great. Ask your female friends where she sees herself in five years time, or what her ideal life would look like.
It sounds sexist, a lot of women genuinely love cooking. If you find a woman who does, talk about recipes, chefs, and her favorite things to make at home. Then get her to cook for me!
Revolutionary fact: women love to gossip about men – comparing good and bad experiences, lusting after attractive men, and generally talking about them. You can start with a celebrity example “Would you rather be stuck on a dessert island with Johnny Depp or Brad Pitt?” or, for extra giggles, people you both know.
It’s no secret many women love to gossip – usually about people they know, either at work or socially. It isn’t very nice, but “Have you heard that Sandra from finance is pregnant?” (use actual gossip, don’t invent stories) can start a very excited conversation. Gossip can be fine as long as you don’t talk poorly of people.
Many women are in touch with their intuitive “spiritual side”, and like to discuss alternative therapies, meditation, dreams, and their soul. It’s hard to broach the topic if you don’t know the woman well. Try playfully asking “Ever had a dream that actually happened?” or “Have you tried yoga?” to enter the waters.
Conversation Topics with Men
36. Movies and Entertainment
For men who enjoy movies and TV, discuss which movies they’ve seen lately, their favorite movie of all time, the best action scene etc. These conversations can go on for a while.
Gadgets and the latest developments, e.g. “Have you seen those Google glasses?” Share opinions, compare crazy inventions you’ve heard of, and come up with ideas somebody should invent.
38. Recent Sports Matches
Most of us men love sports. “Did you see the game last night?” is a typical conversation opener. At least understand the sport to join in!
39. Dream Teams
Does your office have a fantasy football league? It’s fun to discuss your dream sports team, comparing which players you’d recruit. You could also do this with movies or concerts – who’d be the actors in your dream movie?
We usually don’t gossip about women like women do about men. Some men compare women they find attractive. A conversation can go along the lines of “Would you?” for various celebrity or known women.
41. Health and Fitness
From the wealth of men’s magazines, it’s clear men prioritize health and fitness. Chat about workout techniques, which gyms are good, what food to eat or avoid. Some guys might not be comfortable discussing it, but if you openly ask their advice they might be happy to.
Deep and Meaningful Conversation Topics
42. The Meaning of Life
Most people have thought about it at some point. Start with “Why are we here (in this existence)?” or “Are we here for a reason, or did we just happen?” A gateway into debating God, destiny, and free will.
43. Subjective Experience
“Is there an objective reality?” Topics ranging from visual illusions to widely different opinions on the same thing can open the topic of how everybody’s reality is constructed from their brains, and therefore different. How do you know the colors you see are the same that everyone else sees?
44. Contribution to Society
Doing good deeds is increasingly popular, yet we’re aware of our society’s impact on the environment and poorer countries. Discuss what you do to make the world a better place, or how you could improve your contribution and minimize your impact.
Although arguments can arise, a healthy political debate is a good thinking exercise. Discuss various points and current political events, as well as the very concept of democracy – “Do the masses really know what’s good for them?”
46. Life on Other Planets
“Do aliens exist? Are they already here? What would they think of us as a race?” Think about what life might be like in the future if humanity were to spread to the stars. This can bring up a lot of interesting ideas.
47. Human Nature
What is human nature? Are we born with our personalities or do we develop them from our upbringing? Share examples of how you think your environment shaped your being, think about twins who are different, and debate whether human nature is intrinsically good or bad.
Other Rules and Tips to Come Up With Your Own Conversation Topics
48. Talk About the Person
On any topic you can ask someone’s opinion or experience.
49. Find That Hot Experience
We usually have something hot in our life at any moment that we’d love to share. Find out what is hot for the person by asking, “What’s big in your life at the moment?” (Thanks to Don Gabor for this question.)
50. List 10 Topics You Love
Then think about how you can talk about them. This prepares you to take a conversation down many routes. Make these topics as diverse as possible so you can connect with a variety of people. Saying you love “League of Legends”, “Skyrim”, and “Battlefield 4” won’t do. You’ll only keep a conversation going in this case if someone else (like me!) loves video games.
51. Avoid Edgy Topics
Skip topics like health ailments, family problems, and money. You can talk about these but it’s just risky for most people. By all means, if you’re confident experiment with these topics. Because they are edgy, they may get certain people yapping away.
52. Conversation Starters
Review my list of 101 conversation starters for great ideas to get talking with people you don’t know.
All conversation topics are like herbs in a recipe. If you only use herbs or concern yourself with what to say, the end result will be weird. When used with other ingredients, they’re an essential part of the whole.
As you get better with all your conversation skills, you only need one or two topics to get going as the conversation carries itself through a variety of topics you could not conceive earlier. The effortless discussion may come from a weird fact, a story, or someone’s opinion about the initial topic. These are the best conversation topics.
For everything you need to develop people skills for a great life, even if you’re shy, I suggest you get my Big Talk course.
Joshua Uebergang aka "Tower of Power"
Joshua Uebergang, aka "Tower of Power", teaches social skills to help shy guys build friends and influence people. Visit his blog and sign-up free to get communication techniques, relationship-boosting strategies, and life-building tips by email, along with blog updates, and more! Go now to http://www.towerofpower.com.au/free/