Can you help me with small talk?
So we prepare the vocabulary and expressions for common topics using mind maps and then we practise small talk.
Possible conversation openers include:
- "Is this your first visit to Sydney?"
- "Have you had a chance to use the hotel swimming pool yet?"
- "Are you following the Rugby World Cup at the moment?"
- "Do you have any holidays coming up?"
- "I saw in the news that you may be changing the flag."
When starting conversations by stating the obvious – "Lovely day, isn't it?" or "Wasn't that a terrible accident yesterday?" – remember that intonation goes down as this is not a real question. And the response – "Yes, great, isn't it?" or "Yes, it was." – has the same downward pattern.
Less common topics, such as family, health or politics, may be appropriate depending on the context and your relationship.
Ask open-ended questions beginning with where, when, why, how and how long to keep the conversation going. A yes/no answer can't be given to these questions. Encourage the conversation by giving feedback – "I see" or "Oh that's unusual" or "uh huh" – and try to expand your responses by adding more information.
If you want to transition to business talk, you can use phrases like:
- "There's something I wanted to ask you"
- "I was wondering about …"
- "Has there been any progress on …"
Finally, end conversations by waiting for a natural lull and using so, well or anyway to indicate the chat's drawing to a close:
- "Well, I'd better go get ready for my talk."
- "Anyway, I'd better go catch up with …"
- "Well, it's been good talking to you."
- "So I'll see you back inside."
- "See you later/around."
© Christina Wielgolawski