How do I get better at Smalltalk?

I jumped into the cold water at the time, and to this day I have no regrets about learning small talk.

In the second semester of my computer science studies, I was asked by a few older students if I wanted to come to a conference in Berlin.I was very insecure, especially because it was such a big financial burden (only the ticket already 120€ for 3 days, in addition to travel, dining and meals), and because I have not seen any direct benefit: if I buy a laptop, then I can use it for a few years n – but something like that?

Well, somehow I agreed anyway.We went there, there were a few exhibitors and a lot of lectures. I’ve got tips on what to answer if someone asks me “and what are you doing?”.

The first two days of the conference I actually only heard lectures.Every now and then after a really good presentation the speaker asked for the slides or something. Every now and then an exhibitor asks what they do. Never realized that 1000 people are running around here, who have paid a smattering of money for this conference and therefore somehow already have common interests with me. Until the last day.

I was standing at a traffic light at nine in the morning on the way to the conference, next to me someone who also wore such a badge.On some whim, I asked him if he would go to this conference. Suddenly, what I would call my first professional small talk developed the rest of the way, and it wasn’t that hard!

Around noon I was standing at a sponsor’s bar.Next to me someone with a slit Pacman tie. Inadvertently it slips out to me: “Fancy tie!” It turns around as if he had just been waiting for this comment, and again a three-minute small talk has developed, through which I was almost magically guided by my counterpart (he was a professional, definitely!).

After the conference, one of the older classmates came to me, that he had watched the conversation at the bar, and wondered if I could imagine becoming his successor in a year’s time, i.e. the board of industrial communications at the student game developer association. of our university.I was the only one of the “new ones” who “networked” on their part. I didn’t say yes, but I’ve been playing with that thought ever since.

And so I have since gone to every possible conference, to which he also went.I had business cards printed for me. I spoke to people in the shuttle bus, in the queue at the bar, or next to me in the lecture, and when I was asked what I was doing as a student here I always said “I’m here to learn networks” and usually get some nice tips. I have been less and less afraid to approach people, and I remember that the participants all have similar interests that we can talk about, otherwise they would not be here.

In this way, practicing and leaving comfort zone, in such a suitable environment, I have trained my skills in small talk.


  • Go to events that interest you
  • Enter situations that last a defined, short window of time
    • Lift
    • Queue
    • Taxi / Shuttle ride
  • Talk to the people themselves!

(Because many, like you, have a bit of inhibition to target someone banal)

  • As banal as it sounds: “Whatare you doing like this?”is one of the best conversation openers, because everyone can answer it!
  • Ask questions, and pay attention to a balance of how much you talk to and how much your counterpart.
    • Some people like to talk.

    Actively listen and ask for details

  • Some people prefer to listen to themselves. Addressing topics from you, possibly involving another person in the conversation
  • If you notice that the air is out, actively end the conversation
    • “I’m going to get something to drink” (possibly.

    + “Are you coming with you?”)

  • “My next lecture starts right away”
  • When your counterpart ends the conversation, don’t take it personally, it’s just Smalltalk!
  • Ask a few questions in advance, as well as your personal answers.
  • It helped me a lot.Last autumn, after two years, I passed on the board position 🙂

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