How to start a good conversation?

Practical tips for initiating a conversation with a stranger



Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash

A good beginning wins you half the battle.

A good beginning to a conversation sets the stage for a comfortable and meaningful exchange of information that both people will find enjoyable and valuable. But the beginning is always the hardest. In this article, I will show you a few tips that can be easily applied, whether you’re talking to a stranger in-person or online (Zoom Zoom!)

Think about the beginning of a conversation as the appetizer. The goal is not to get full by eating the appetizer, but simply to lead into the main course. At the end of the meal, we usually remember the main course, not so much the appetizer, so definitely don’t stress over the opening of a conversation.

A Warm Start

I recommend that you start with the following formula that always works:

[observation] + [compliment]

Starting with an observation about the other person is a good way to break the ice less awkwardly. Closely follow with a compliment to show your friendliness and make the other person feel good.

For example, you can open with something like the following:

  • I’m impressed by how eloquent you are. Are you a professor?
  • I really like how your dress and bag complement each other. Do you work in the fashion industry?

In one sentence, you are telling the other person that you’ve noticed something good about them, and you’re giving them the attention and respect they likely enjoy having.

Developing the Conversation

Now that you’ve had a warm start, it is much easier to continue with the conversation. But you still want to have good ways to proactively carry on the conversation and find topics to discuss if you feel stuck. There are three ways that you can easily find topics:

  1. Find inspiration from objects in your surrounding.
  2. Find inspiration directly from the person you’re talking to
  3. Find inspiration from the situation you’re both in




Practical optimist. Rational dreamer. Work, Read, Write, Run, Eat, Sleep.