Four Tips for Making Quality Small Talk at Your Next Holiday Gathering

By Megan Morrow
Published November 15, 2018


If you dread mingling, getting stuck in a corner with strangers or making small talk, holiday gatherings can be exhausting, to say the least.

Mastering the art of small talk, however, can put you and others at ease in social and business situations and help you uncover common ground that can either lead to 15 minutes of enjoyable conversation or even a lifelong connection.

If you find yourself staring at your watch or the wall at your next event, try the following four tactics to transition from small to more substantial talk:

  1. Ask questions. Most people love to talk about themselves, so if you can ask the right questions and actively listen, you will have the opportunity to learn about new people and experiences without a lot of effort. Questions can start simply – how do you know the host? – and proceed to more specifics about work, family and leisure.
  2. Have a list of conversation topics at the ready. Go beyond the weather (and religion and politics) to topics that interest you. If you need some ideas, following are a few fun options: What are you reading right now? How are you spending the holidays this year? What have you binge-watched on Netflix or Amazon Prime? What keeps you busy when you are not at events like this? What is your favorite new restaurant? Prepare a few topics based on the event you are attending and the audience.
  3. Give them something to work with. If someone asks you what you do for work, instead of giving a short-and-sweet reply, such as “I’m in education”, offer a more meaningful answer: “I teach college courses on the global economy and I take students on spring break trips to build houses Latin America”. Clearly, providing more details will make it easier for someone to respond, in kind; we all know how difficult it can be to talk with someone who only answers in one- or two-word sentences.
  4. Make a good getaway. Rather than slinking off when the conversation shifts away from you, you can make a clean break by letting your new acquaintances know that you need a bite to eat or see a colleague across the room, and that you enjoyed talking with them. Share something specific about the conversation to let them know you were paying attention, i.e., “It was great talking with you about your volunteer work with the Humane Society. I’ll let you know if we decide to get another German Shepherd”.

Most of all, do not forget to smile – it makes a good first, middle and last impression.

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The material presented here is for information purposes only and is not to be considered an offer to buy or sell any security. This report was prepared from sources believed to be reliable but it is not guaranteed as to accuracy and it is not a complete summary of statement of all available data. Information and opinions are current up to the date of publication and are subject to change without notice. The purchase and sale of securities should be conducted on an individual basis considering the risk tolerance and investment objective of each investor and with the advice and counsel of a professional advisor. The opinions expressed by Ms. Morrow are strictly her own and do not necessarily reflect those of Herbert J. Sims & Co., Inc. or their affiliates. This is not a solicitation to buy or an offer to sell any particular investment. All investment involves risk and may result in a loss of principal. Investors should carefully consider their own circumstances before making any investment decision.

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