How to Be Better at Small Talk

Successful schmoozing is an invaluable skill that you can improve with practice.


Up next in How to Improve Your Communication Skills (68 videos)

Whether you're dealing with friends, family, a lover, or co-workers, you'll benefit from the communication skills taught in this Howcast video series. Among the advice included: how to tell someone off; how to deliver an ultimatum; how to complain; how to solve creative differences; how to give a compliment; how to take criticism; how to apologize; how to read social cues; how to learn to say no; and much more.


You Will Need

  • Knowledge of current events and the arts
  • Listening skills
  • An exit strategy


  1. Step 1


    Come prepared to discuss current events and the arts. If you've met these people before, remember what you know about them so you can weave it into the conversation.

  2. Avoid negative or controversial topics and stay away from long, detailed stories.

  3. Step 2

    Introduce yourself

    Say hello, shake hands, and introduce yourself. Mention what you do for a living.

  4. Step 3

    Lead with a positive comment

    Make a positive comment about the event you're attending and follow up with an open-ended question, such as how they met the host. Offer a topic for discussion and be prepared to switch topics if it doesn't grab their interest.

  5. Don’t get hung up looking for deep topics to discuss or crafting a brilliant response. Keep it light and easy.

  6. Step 4

    Expand on a topic

    Expand on a topic of conversation by relating it to another subject. For example, if the topic is the food at the event, you might mention some great food you had while on vacation.

  7. Don’t dominate a conversation by pursuing a topic you are passionate about. Good conversation is give and take.

  8. Step 5

    Listen and be aware of your body language

    Actively listen to the other person by making eye contact and providing feedback. Avoid making others ill at ease by letting your body language show that you are confident and comfortable.

  9. Step 6

    Pay attention

    Pay attention to the conversations of others so you don’t interrupt at a bad time or make an awkward remark.

  10. Step 7

    Have an exit strategy

    Have an exit strategy planned so you can mingle with others. Say you need to check in with an old friend or visit the buffet. Your goal is to make a good impression and leave them wanting more.

  11. Did you know? The late Senator Strom Thurmond made the longest known filibuster in 1957, speaking for 24 hours and 18 minutes.