Hi, everyone! It’s Maša. Welcome to English Snippets, episode 3. Hope you’re all well. First off, thank you to all of you who have listened to the previous podcasts and let me know it was useful. It sure does keep me going.

Today’s topic is small talk. Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you had to break the ice at social events, networking, with a new prospect, or had to warm up a customer or client before upselling them? If yes, you’ve likely had to deal with small talk.

What is small talk? Well, it definitely isn’t a “small thing”, quite the contrary – it’s your ability to build rapport with casual, light and informal conversation. It’s used when you’re speaking to someone you don’t know or don’t know very well. For this reason, it is vital to follow few rules:

  1. Ask relevant open-ended questions, e.g. How did you end up at [name of the event]? This way you allow your co-speaker to open up and elaborate on the topic they are talking about.

Other open-ended questions are:

How are things going?

How has business changed since we spoke?

How’s like in [name of the city]?

What’s your industry like right now?

After you’ve asked those questions, make sure to pay attention to the answers, which brings us to point number 2.

  • Listen actively. By practicing active listening, you get a chance to ask further relevant questions and build stronger connections – you are more engaged in conversation by taking interest into what the other person is saying.

Let’s take a look at a sample small talk – the two people talking are at a business conference:

A How are things going?

B Great, actually. We finally launched a new set of coffee machines.

A Oh, really? That’s interesting. How does it differ from the previous line of your coffee machines?

B It’s got a few upgraded features, everything from the strength of the coffee to the temperature.

A Sounds great.

B Thanks. And you, how are things going?

  • Be aware of your body posture and responses: make sure to use gestures when speaking, make eye contact, and, when appropriate, acknowledge statements with a nod, question or comment – just like in the sample small talk above (i.e. “Oh, really? That’s interesting.” or “Sounds great.”).
  • Make sure to end small talk appropriately. It’s all good when the conversation is flowing, but how do you finish it or avoid an awkward silent moment?

Here are few suggestions to use, depending on the situation you are in:

  • “This has been great — thanks for telling me about X. Do you have a card?”
  • “Can’t wait to hear how [the project, personal decision] goes! Let’s catch up at the next [work party, conference, meeting, get-together].”
  • “I’m going to go grab [some food, a drink]. Great to [meet you, catch up].”
  • “I see my [friend, coworker, client] over there and should probably go say hi. Want to exchange contact info?”
  • “The next session is starting soon, so I’m going to go find my room. It was nice meeting you!”

I hope the next time you are in involved in small talk, the advice and examples help you out.

If you’d like to upgrade your conversation skills, feel free to contact me at You can also follow us on Facebook – @linguarumSI.

That’s it for today, everyone. Thank you for being here and ‘till next time.

Happy speaking!