How to Make Small Talk at a Party
Party small talk doesn’t have to be awkward. Just follow this simple guide!
If you work in an office or live in an apartment building where you take the elevator regularly, chances are you’re familiar with elevator music. You know, that incessantly-repeating, neutrally happy tune with no resolution whatsoever? Although you’re likely familiar with the jingles, do you know why elevator music was invented in the first place? Answer: to make elevators less awkward!
If you’ve been stuck on an elevator ride with someone before, you know the dreadful, claustrophobic awkwardness that begins to fill the space as soon as the sliding doors close shut. Neither one of you knows how to make small talk, so you both just stare at your phones (or worse yet, stare blankly into the abyss and rethink the life choices that got you into this situation in the first place).
At some point, a victim of silent elevator awkwardness decided to do something about it, and elevator music was created to fill in some of that soul-eroding silence. Unfortunately, you can’t have elevator music playing everywhere you go.
Some day, you’ll be at a house party with strangers, at a work cocktail party, or a business networking event, and you’ll be forced to make small talk. When that inevitable scenario occurs, you need to be ready. In this AUXGOD party guide, we’ll give you three strategies to make small talk in any scenario!
Why Do You Need Party Small Talk?
When most people think of small talk, they usually dismiss it as pointless, mundane, shallow chit-chat that has no meaning whatsoever. And they’re right! At its core, party small talk is nothing more than two people exchanging pointless clichés to minimize awkwardness.
Despite its unremarkable nature, making small talk is a crucial part of acquainting yourself with strangers and transitioning to deeper, more meaningful topics. Just imagine how uncomfortable conversations with new people would be if small talk didn't exist:
There you are, standing around at a party when you make eye contact with a stranger. They smile, walk over to you, shake your hand, then spring into a 30-minute digression about politics, religion, and their (admittedly complicated) family life. You don’t even know this person’s name, yet somehow they’ve made you their impromptu therapist/life coach/confidante.
If the mere thought of this situation is enough to make you cringe, you need to learn how to make some party small talk! The better you become at having mundane conversations with strangers, the more opportunities you’ll get to build friendships and segue to more meaningful and engaging topics. Here are our top three tips for making small talk like a pro!
Tip 1) Be the Leader
This first tip might sound counterintuitive at first, but hear us out! One of the best ways to minimize awkwardness when making party small talk is to be the one who initiates it. Although approaching someone and breaking the ice can be a daunting task, it’s much better than waiting for someone to talk to you instead.
When you become the small talk leader, you unlock two advantages that you wouldn’t have otherwise. Firstly, you get to choose who you make small talk with. Is there someone at your event that you want to meet? Being the leader gives you a unique chance to choose your conversation partner. Secondly, being the first to make small talk at a party lets you set the tone, pace, and subject of conversation!
If you’re a party small talk novice, choosing to be the leader lets you pick how, when, and where your conversations take place.
Tip 2) Use the FORM Technique
You’ve taken the initiative and approached someone to make small talk. Now comes the hard part: what are you supposed to say?
Luckily, making small talk is about more than just talking about the weather and your favorite sports team. Psychologists and communications experts have narrowed down the four subjects that nearly everyone shares as a common interest. They’ve even put these into an easily memorable acronym that you can use anytime you need a small talk subject. Introducing: The FORM Technique!
F – Family & Friends
Our friends and family aren’t just people we spend time with. They are an integral part of our lives. Almost everyone can relate to the topic of friends and family, making it an incredibly easy and versatile party small talk conversation starter!
O – Occupation
Many people spend most of their waking hours at work. So asking someone about their job or business is bound to yield an intriguing conversation. The topic of occupation is unique in that people will always have an opinion to share about it. If your small talk partner loves their job, they’ll tell you all about their passion. On the other hand, if they can’t stand their gig, they’ll certainly have some interesting opinions to share about it as well!
R – Recreation
A person’s hobbies can tell you a lot about their temperament, values, and beliefs. Even if you don’t share the same pastimes, asking someone about their passions and hobbies is guaranteed to lead to an engaging conversation!
M – Motivation
Asking someone about their motivations and life goals is a bit more profound than talking about family or work. As such, avoid starting party small talk with this topic; you may come across a bit too forward. Instead, save it for later in the conversation when you and your partner are better acquainted.
Talking about goals and motivations can be an excellent segue into deeper subjects and more gripping exchanges.
Tip 3) Have an Escape Plan
Even if you do everything right, not every party small talk exchange will lead to a bigger, more interesting conversation. If you find yourself wanting to exit a discussion ASAP, here are three foolproof escape plans to include in your arsenal:
The Pause Exit
This is the most graceful and natural way to exit a conversation. Simply wait until there is a natural pause in the discussion (usually when the other person runs out of things to say) and use the opportunity to make your escape.
Simply uttering a line like, “Well hey, it was great meeting you! I’m going to walk around and meet some more people,” is a kind way to end a conversation without being too abrupt.
The Restroom Escape
You might be wondering, what if there’s no natural pause in the conversation? Perhaps you’ve started talking to someone who can incessantly monologue for hours on end. When this happens, you need an irrefutable way to exit your party small talk discussion.
Introducing: The Restroom Escape! Simply excuse yourself and say you need to go to the restroom. Your partner will have no option but to let you go. Hideaway for a few minutes, and with any luck, they’ll be long gone by the time you emerge!
The Torpedo Method
If the two methods above fail, you need a last-resort party small talk emergency escape plan. This strategy is almost guaranteed to help you exit a conversation. But be warned, you might upset your friends in the process. So only use The Torpedo Method in the most desperate of situations.
Why is this escape plan called The Torpedo, you ask? Because it involves pawning-off your irritating conversation partner onto one of your friends and leaving them to suffer the consequences. Simply find a friend that shares a common interest with your conversation partner, introduce them to each other, and then promptly disappear into the crowd as they’re getting acquainted.
Unethical? Yep. Does it work? Absolutely!
The Ultimate Bonus Tip: Bring the Entertainment!
Let’s face it: party small talk is a necessity, but nobody actually likes doing it. If you want a fun way to connect with the people at your shindig, you need some in-house party entertainment! Of course, there are the same old party amusements like music, dancing, and drinking games. But if you want to create an experience that everyone will remember for a long time, you need a fresh, new party game that makes a statement. You need AUXGOD.
What is AUXGOD? It’s the music card game that’s been taking the party world by storm! AUXGOD is a game that combines improv, trivia, and karaoke into the perfect social activity for your upcoming event. Teams face off to pick the best songs and decide who has the best music taste once and for all!
Get started now. Click here to visit our store and get your AUXGOD deck today!
Still on the fence? Click here to see what our fans have to say about their party experiences with the AUXGOD game. Or visit our homepage to download 20 cards and try AUXGOD for free!