What are some good random conversation starters

Eisbrecher: This is how you start a conversation with everyone

An uncomfortable idea: You are at a networking event and after the first few seconds the conversation subsides, followed by embarrassed silence. How to revive the whole thing? A Icebreaker must be here! Shy and reserved people in particular find it difficult to get a conversation going in the first place, let alone keep it going. Casual chatting with other people is not rocket science. If you can't do that easily, you can rely on tried and tested icebreakers. These get the conversation going again and help over the initial hurdles of getting started. We'll show you how ...

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Definition: what is an icebreaker?

Before we explain below what options icebreakers offer you, we should briefly explain what is meant by this.

The term comes from shipping and describes a specially constructed ship whose main task is to to break open frozen rivers or harbors and thus to make it passable. The same applies in a figurative sense in different conversation situations.

If two people have nothing to say to each other, one speaks of an "ice age". One of those to loosen up the frosty atmosphere or to avoid it from the start, this is the job of rhetorical icebreakers. When do you need an icebreaker? For example here:

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Why do you need a conversation opener?

The above selection already shows that different situations, in which people meet, can make an icebreaker necessary. The motivations are as varied as the occasions for discussions:

  • You promise yourself advantages

    They know about the importance of a person and hope for important information, valuable contacts and the like. Even in an interview you don't want to scare off the applicant, so an icebreaker is needed.

  • You have mercy

    Another reason for this can be sheer politeness or friendliness - for example, most people don't like to stand alone in a corner at a reception.

  • They hope for the latest gossip

    In other cases, the reason may be curiosity. Industry-internal scandals and innovations arouse the interest of almost everyone.

  • You want to position yourself

    If you want to be perceived as an expert in the scene, you have to talk to the right people and incorporate your knowledge. However, there are dangers lurking here (see below).

Better conversations with small talk

For many, the start of a conversation is the trickiest part a dialogue among strangers. The start is bumpy, people look around unsettled and there can be no talk of a conversation yet.

What is missing is an icebreaker. This means sentences and conversation openers with which the initial uncertainty can be overcome quickly with new contacts.

First conversations usually consist mainly of small talk, so you need to don't be afraid to be that you get caught up in deep discussions. Still, you have to get there first and get started.

A little preparation can help in individual cases. For example, if you know who you will meet in the evening, you can find out about this person in advance and gather ideas on how to start a conversation. But even without this advance notice, you can join a couple of simple icebreakers start a conversation anytime.

Icebreaker Questions: Examples of Every Occasion

And this is how you proceed: In order to balanced proportions of speech choose a clever question that attracts the attention of the other person and leads to a conversation - one word often results in the other.

Until that happens, it is important to approach strangers carefully, because the wrong topic, too brash or too passive behavior can easily leave an unfavorable impression. The point is to arouse sympathy.

Body language plays an important role here. Who friendly smiling a conversation begins, arouses interest much faster and helps others, who may also be shy, to jump over their shadows.

We have collected some icebreakers for you below - but it is not enough just to be able to stubbornly recite them. You have to convey the thematic questions in such a way that the other person feels that you are sincerely interested in him or her are.

You don't just choose the conversation selfish motives - because someone has very good relationships with an attractive business partner - but for the person's sake. Otherwise, you could be quickly classified as opportunistic.

The classic icebreaker

Conversation icebreakers are not a new invention but have always been used to be the first To avoid difficulties in starting a conversation. So over the years some classics have developed that you can hardly go wrong with in order to start the dialogue.

  • What do you do for a living?

    This icebreaker is almost always suitable for events that have to do with your profession. You start a conversation straight away, the other person can talk a little about you (which most people like to do) and the conversation usually continues on its own for a while, as you can express interest or ask more detailed questions. On the other hand, this icebreaker is of course not very creative - but this does not affect its usefulness.

  • Don't we know each other from somewhere?

    This sentence is hardly suitable as an attempt at flirtation, but if put forward seriously and seriously, it is a real icebreaker. It makes the person you are talking to really concentrate on you, to think about whether you really already know each other and it is immensely flattering for the ego when someone else remembers you.

  • Oh, the food looks good. Where did you find that?

    Even a little more unusual and entering directly over the meal requires a little courage, but this icebreaker usually works very well. The prerequisite is of course that there is something to eat in the form of a buffet. After getting started with the delicacies on your plate, you can join in and introduce yourself first - experienced small talkers let in a little excuse: Excuse me, I didn't mean to be rude. I should first introduce myself. My name is…

  • And how did you find the lecture?

    A lecture of some kind is almost always given at professional events. Usually it is the host or organizer who addresses a few words to the guests or a specially invited speaker. Since everyone is listening to this lecture, this question is a good icebreaker that everyone can say something about. However, you shouldn't use this introduction to blaspheme, but to say something positive.

  • I am really curious what to expect. What do you think?

    Of course, you can also use icebreakers at the beginning to start conversations. To do this, turn the sentence above a little and you have a new start.

  • What would you like to drink?

    You won't be the only one looking for someone to talk to at larger events. Often one or the other is still uncertain in the room or alone at a table - the perfect opportunity to offer a drink together. The wording is a little easier for many Do you want me to bring you something from the bar?

The technology icebreaker

Nowadays everyone has a smartphone or even a tablet with them - sometimes in their pocket, but also regularly in their hands to check the latest news, read emails or quickly type a message. A good opportunity to add some icebreakers:

  • Which app do you prefer to use?

    This can be a game, the calendar, the e-mail program or something else. In any case, you will immediately get a first impression of your counterpart. Another advantage of this icebreaker: You might find something in common right away - or you can name your favorite app and the conversation will start.

  • What is your experience with this brand?

    There are Apple disciples and of course followers of various other brands and everyone will have an opinion on why they prefer one brand and avoid the other. An ideal door opener, because this conversation can be started with a glance at the smartphone and easily related to various everyday devices from the tablet to the television and technical enhancements in general.

  • And what music do you have on your smartphone for on the go?

    Music connects people and if you, as an icebreaker, ask about their favorite music, you usually already learn a lot about a person's taste. Otherwise, the same connection options apply here as for the question about the app above.

  • Which social network do you use most often?

    The likelihood of the answer Facebook is quite large, but in the further course of the conversation you can immediately incorporate the fact that you could network there. But you might get another, surprising answer to dwell on. Or your counterpart is not even on social media - which of course raises the question of what reasons they have for this.

The recreational icebreaker

Inconspicuous topics are particularly well suited as icebreakers. This includes free time, which everyone can organize in a way that suits them personally. In this way, you can not only start a conversation, but also learn more about the person you are talking to.

  • What do you like to do in your free time?

    Asking a person's hobbies is a popular icebreaker. Your interlocutor can talk about something he likes to do, you can ask further questions and you can describe your own leisure activities. Many exciting dialogues can arise on this basis.

  • Which series do you prefer to watch on television?

    Series are enjoying increasing popularity and through various streaming portals almost everyone has access to a huge selection. Almost everyone now has their personal favorites, which can be a good start to a conversation.

  • Which book are you reading now?

    In addition to watching TV, reading a book continues to be a popular pastime. This icebreaker is particularly recommended if you are reading an exciting book yourself. It is best if you are generally well read. This increases the likelihood that you will definitely be able to contribute if the other person mentions a book title.

  • Which city / country would you like to visit next?

    Traveling is a passion of many people, and they are only too happy to report about it. This icebreaker can also be turned around by asking where the interlocutor's last trip went.

The creative icebreakers

For the brave, the icebreaker can be a little more unusual and direct. But that should also match your personality in order to create a coherent overall picture. In addition, it is possible that these icebreakers are too direct for one or the other interlocutor - but brought across and integrated into the conversation, they can be an exciting change from always the same entry.

  • What's your main goal?

    A very personal question if the goals run in the family, but also a very interesting icebreaker. Most people answer here with professional goals, which you can build on to learn more about their professional career.

  • What inspires you

    For an icebreaker, this is a difficult question, and one that has to be paused to think about it and give a good answer. But that is exactly what makes the icebreaker so exciting and effective. Both sides are immediately involved in the conversation.

  • If you won a million euros what would you do with it first?

    Everyone has thought about what they would do with a sudden windfall. Fulfill dreams? Invest? Share with others? Whatever your interlocutor's answer, the icebreaker has definitely served its purpose.

  • Who would you consider your personal role model?

    A person from your immediate environment - family or work? A well-known personality? The possible answers are numerous, but they can all easily be deepened with further questions in order to move the conversation forward. For example: Why exactly this person? What makes you a role model?

  • What is your philosophy of life?

    A personal motto reveals a lot about a person. Is he a pessimist or is he more positive about things? A basic attitude that lets you look deeply.

Tips: Please avoid these mistakes!

There are actually a dime a dozen topics and you may want to know a lot about the person you are talking to. Still, there are a few questions about the icebreaker To avoid mishaps - Otherwise, at best, you thunder into the iceberg, but by no means melt the ice between you.

If you heed the following tips, small chats will be a lucky star:

They talk about negative subjects

Questions about illness, death and disasters à la What do you say about the accident ... are very bad icebreakers. Most of the time, such questions are quickly perceived as tactless and lead to the fact that the other person falls silent. Expressions of opinion on disputes and conflicts also do not conjure up a positive mood, so it is better to avoid these topics.

Read more about this here:

You choose private topics

One does not talk about money - this unwritten rule is widespread, at least in Germany. Questions about annual salaries, but also comments on the merit of those present, would therefore be perceived as a faux pas. Discussions on politics and religion are an absolute private matter and therefore taboo, as these topics are very polarizing. But you want to find common ground!

Read more about this here:

They only talk about themselves

Self-promoters are a nuisance. The problem occurs with individuals who are either narcissistic and simply prefer to hear themselves. In this case, the interlocutor actually only acts as a key word: a pro forma question is asked, which is then answered himself. Not only is such a thing extremely rude, it also alienates a person for the future.

Read more about this here:

You are overly nervous

Same effect, but different cause: Anyone who needs an icebreaker to start a conversation is usually rather shy. It can happen that someone, for fear of silence, simply fills the room with non-stop chattering - that would also be unfavorable. You should give your interlocutor the opportunity to answer.

Read more about this here:

You go into expectation

Conversely, some people have expectations according to the motto: I deliver the question, now talk to me! Subjects like weather and food are harmless, but sometimes someone is not interested in a conversation. It takes a little more to lure him out of the reserve, especially since nobody can be obliged to give the entertainer for others.

Read more about this here:

You are getting too close to others

A common tip is compliments as an icebreaker. Attention! This can backfire, especially when a man does not understand the difference between compliments and abuse and admires the cleavage of a strange woman. Compliments between the sexes, but also in the case of hierarchical differences, can quickly backfire, especially about outward appearances. What is different if you express yourself praising the location, a performance, the food or the like to the person you are talking to.

Read more about this here:

It can still happen that you apply all the rules of the art and the other person answers extremely monosyllabic. Instead of biting your teeth against such contemporaries, you should then withdraw skillfully. There are also some classics for this:

  • You accidentally discovered a friend at the end of the room,
  • Your glass is in need of supplies,
  • You have other obligations
  • You are currently looking for the host or
  • You just want to powder your nose.

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17th December 2020Author: Jochen Mai

Jochen Mai is the founder and editor-in-chief of the career bible.The author of several books lectures at the TH Köln and is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach and consultant.

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