Breaking the Ice: Conversation Starters for Parties

Starting a Party Conversation

Parties are a great way to meet new people, but finding conversations starters can be a chore if socializing isn’t your favorite pastime.  For many of us, taking that first step by approaching someone new is the hardest part and we end up tongue-tied.

If you're feeling shy or awkward, don't worry - you're not alone.  Here are a few tips to help you break the ice and get those conversations flowing.

Start by Observing

As you arrive and take in your surroundings, take in the vibe of the party.  What's the theme? What's the music like?  What kind of food is being served?  You can always use these things as a starting point for conversation when you’re ready.

Are other guests having fun or is the party a flop?  This, too, can be a way to open conversation. Although, if the party isn’t going well try to be helpful and inject a little positivity and fun rather than contribute to any negativity.

Finding Conversation Starters

So, you’ve arrived at the party, taken in your surroundings, and everyone is having a great time. You don’t see anyone you know and nervousness takes over.  Give yourself a pause to take a calming breath and then head to the bar or food table.  This is where the fun begins.

  1. Be open and approachable. The first thing you can do is simply make yourself look approachable.  Smile, make eye contact, and avoid crossing your arms or hunching over. This will send out the message that you're friendly and open to talking.

  2. Start with a simple greeting.  A simple "Hi" or "Hello" is a perfectly good way to start a conversation.  You can also add a comment about the party, such as "This is a great party, isn't it?" or "I love the music they're playing."

  3. Ask open-ended questions.  Open-ended questions are those that can't be answered with a simple yes or no. They're a great way to get someone talking and learn more about them. For example, you could ask "What brings you here tonight?" or "How do you know our host, Jack?"

  4. Find common ground.  Once you've started talking, look for things you have in common with the other person.  This could be anything from your interests to your hometown to your favorite book.  Finding common ground is a great way to build rapport and keep the conversation going.

  5. Be a good listener.  This is one of the most important things you can do in any conversation.  Pay attention to what the other person is saying and ask follow-up questions.  This will show that you're interested in what they have to say and make them feel valued.

  6. Relax and have fun!  The most important thing is to relax and have fun.  Don't put too much pressure on yourself to be perfect. Just let the conversation flow naturally.

Here are a few additional tips:

  • If you see someone you know who is already talking to someone else, approach them just to say a quick hello. They may introduce you to their conversation partner and pull you in. This way, you can ease into the conversation without feeling like you're interrupting.
  • If you're struggling to come up with conversation starters, make a list of open-ended questions before the party and keep it with you in case of emergency.
  • Try using a conversation starter app. There are a number of great apps available that can provide you with questions and topics to talk about.
  • Don't be afraid to walk away from a conversation if you're not feeling it. There are plenty of other people to talk to.

Attending a party can be an adventure.  Give yourself points when you think of a conversation starter as you approach someone, for the number of people you speak to, or even for how long you stay at the party. Making a game of it can help you relax.

And speaking of relaxing, you should!  Know that there are others attending who feel the same tongue-tied nervousness you do. When you relax and enjoy your surroundings, you can be helping them do the same without realizing it.  Good deed done, just by attending a party.

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