101 Amazing Conversation Starters for Any Scenario

Group of coworkers talking and laughing in a conference room

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Carly Zinderman
Carly Zinderman315
Conscientious and timely Content Provider

Whether you consider yourself an outgoing, extroverted people-person or more of a Liz-Lemon-staying-at-home-working-on-my-night-cheese type, there are going to be times when you just don’t know how to start a conversation. It could be at a party where you don’t know anyone, a networking event, or a new office — sometimes getting the talk going can feel like pulling teeth.

Conversation starters can be a useful tool for these situations — particularly in a work setting. Here are 101 questions to ask in different scenarios in order to keep the chitchat coming.

Conversation starters for any situation

Here are some ways to get someone talking in almost any scenario where you’re expected to make small talk. 

1. Do you have any pets?

It seems basic, but pet people tend to love talking about their animal buddies. Plus, you might get to see some cute pics from this question!

2. What did you do last weekend?

The answer to this question can spark conversations on anything from hobbies to family to the latest Netflix series. 

3. Do you have any plans for this weekend?

Similar to the above, but you’ll also have the opportunity to recommend your latest binge-watch!

4. What's the last vacation you took? Do you have any upcoming vacation plans?

Time to hear and share some travel stories!

5. What’s the worst restaurant you've ever been to?

Everyone has experienced a dining fiasco and sharing can help break the ice.

6. What’s the best restaurant you've ever been to?

Best-case scenario you come away from a solid convo with some great food recs. 

7. Are there any TV shows you can quote in your sleep?

Everyone has a favorite show — probably one they've seen many, many times. You can learn a lot about someone from hearing about what their go-to show is and why — and you might find out you have shared faves. 

8. What's the worst gift you ever received?

Bad gifts can make for great stories later on.

9. Who's the best fictional villain?

Norman Bates? Walter White? Voldemort? Frankenstein? Frankenstein’s monster? 

10. Who's the best fictional hero?

Luke Skywalker? Black Panther? Moana? 

11. Who's your favorite Disney character?

Luke Skywalker? Black Panther? Moana?…sorry.

12. What's your guilty pleasure?

It could be late night ice cream, romance novels, or anything that’ll introduce you to a new side of your acquaintance, and help them get to know you. 

13. What food do you avoid at all costs?

A.k.a., what not to bring to the next team potluck.

14. What’s one food you’d like to try? 

Everyone’s a foodie these days — maybe there’s a special cuisine from another country or signature dish at a certain restaurant they can’t wait to get a taste of. 

15. What was the funniest movie you’ve ever seen?

This one can also help you feel out more about the other person’s sense of humor.

16. How do you like to spend your vacations?

Do they like to take to the mountains or the beach? A new city or an amusement park?

17. Where did you grow up? 

Maybe you grew up in similar areas or you can learn about an entirely new place. 

18. What are your hobbies?

If they love to do it, chances are they love to talk about it. 

19. What do you do for work?

Avoid this one if you’re at work and should absolutely know what the other person’s job is already.

20. What kind of music do you like?

You can swap music for “TV shows,” “movies,” “books,” “video games” or almost any kind of media. 

Work conversation starters

Whether you’re new at the office, you find yourself waiting at the coffee machine with somebody you don’t know well, or you’re just trying to break the ice at the beginning of a meeting, these openers can help get the conversation flowing.

21. How’s your day going?

Sometimes the classics are classic for a reason. Let the other person talk about what’s on their mind and see how the conversation develops from there.

22. What did you think of the presentation/meeting?

 Use this occasion as an opportunity to discuss a recent work situation you were both part of, such as a meeting or project. 

23. I had such a strange situation today. How would you have handled that?

This is best for those on your team who might have knowledge to share with you. Getting a coworker’s take on how they would do something demonstrates that you value their opinion. Plus, the response might teach you another way to handle it in the future.

24. What do you do here?

This one works best when you’re meeting someone new. Not only does asking someone about what they do allow you to break the ice, but you’ll also learn more about the company and the different roles and positions. 

25. Hi, I’m [Name]. I’m new here.

Simply introducing yourself is a fine way of making small talk. You’re taking the initiative to approach your new colleagues and showing that you’re a friendly person. 

26. Where are your favorite happy hour/lunch/coffee spots?

Asking where people spend their time can help you get the lay of the land, learn about the culture of your new workplace, or get to know some new colleagues. Plus, maybe your coworker will think to include you the next time they head out to one of these spots.

27. How long have you been working here?

Whether your colleague has been here for eight months or eight years, the length of time they’ve worked at the company can allow you to segue into other topics. If they’ve been there awhile, you’ll be able to get their take on the company culture and management. If it hasn’t been that long, you can share your tips for navigating the company.

28. Your project/presentation was terrific!

Paying your employee or a coworker a compliment on a job well done will encourage them to continue their hard work. You’re also showing that someone recognizes when they do well, which will make them feel good.

29. What did you think of the game/TV show/movie/viral tweet?

If you and a coworker are fans of the same media, this can be a great icebreaker. Plus it’ll bring the conversation outside of the work realm.

30. Are you working on any new, exciting projects?

Learn more about what’s going on in other parts of the company and connect with a coworker at the same time!

Networking conversation starters

Networking events can be painful, especially if you’re an introvert who finds being around tons of new people taxing. Unfortunately, if you’re a professional, you’ll have to attend many throughout your career. Here are conversation starters you can use to make sure your next event goes smoothly.

31. What brings you to this event?

People love to talk about themselves in almost any situation. Asking them why they’re here gives them license to talk about their favorite subject: themselves. After you ask them why they came to the event, they’ll probably ask you the same question, and then you get to talk about you. This starter can help you segue into a broader conversation about your roles in the industry and goals for the event.

32. How often do you come to these events?

If they’ve been to this event before, you can follow up by asking for tips and finding out what to expect. If they haven’t, you’ve established common ground and can commiserate over being newbies together. Then, you can discuss your expectations and ask for theirs, as well as make small talk about your careers in general.

33. What do you do?

Again, asking someone what they do in the industry allows them to talk more about themselves. Asking this question can also benefit you in other ways. For instance, perhaps you have similar positions and can share your perspectives on it. Maybe you aspire to their role and could ask for advice on how to follow a similar path.

34. I’m a huge admirer.

This is one to use if you know of the person in question because they’re a big name in the industry or a leader in your company. People love flattery, and telling someone you admire them is never a bad thing. Just make sure it’s genuine and be prepared to explain why.

35. What does your company do?

Maybe you’ll find out about a great new product or a potential future employer. 

36. What would be your dream job?

Be ready to share your own, too. And no, “professional ice cream tester” does not work as a dream job for a networking event. 

37. What's been your biggest career accomplishment thus far?

Who doesn’t love an opportunity to toot their own horn every once in a while? 

38. What was your very first job? 

With this question, you might learn some pointers for breaking into an industry or you could learn about someone’s experience with the horrors of high school jobs. Either way, you gain something.

School or college conversation starters

Classes and extracurriculars often give you plenty of opportunities to talk with new people. Try some of these questions to get things started. 

39. What are you studying?

Sure it’s cliché, but it could be a jumping off point for a great conversation — or even a great study group.

40. What classes are you taking this semester?

Maybe you can offer each other pointers on classes you’ve already taken.

41. What’s your favorite class right now?

This can give you some insight into what they’re really interested in.

42. Which professor has had the biggest impact on your college career?

Hey, even if you never talk to this person again, you might know what classes you should look at when scheduling comes around for next semester. 

43. Are you in any clubs?

Again you might find out more about what the other person is passionate about, but you could also discover a common interest or learn about a new activity you didn’t know was available on campus.  

Read More: 12 Conversation Starters for Making Friends in College 

Conversation starters for social events

These openers might work better in less formal situations like parties and meals where you can talk about more topics and get some truly intense conversations going without getting interrupted by “having to do your job” or “the teacher trying to teach you something.”

44. Do aliens exist?

This question can open some serious discussions.

45. Which fictional character would you want to be?

This reveals not only personality but also literary tastes.

46. Which fictional character would you date?

Who doesn't have a crush on a fictional character?

47. What reality show would you appear on if you had to choose one?

The Bachelor? Nailed It? Queer Eye? 

48. What's a secret talent you have?

Demonstrations are encouraged.

49. What's a funny prank you've played on someone?

It could be good.

50. What's one embarrassing memory you have?

Time to relive it.

51. Do you have a signature dance move?

Don’t use this one unless you’re willing to partake in an impromptu dance party.

52. What’s one thing that’s on your bucket list? 

Maybe tonight’s the night to cross some things off. 

53. What’s your best party/night out story?

Time for everyone to share. 

54. What's a funny excuse you've given to leave a party early?

Bonus points if you use their idea when you go home.

Fun conversation starters

These questions could work at a social event like the ones above, but they’re also broad enough to work if you’re trying to make conversation at work or school with a group you already know.

55. What magical power do you wish you had?

Questions like this one are whimsical and thought-provoking all at once.

56. If you could be at a dinner table with any five celebrities, who would they be and why?

Half the fun of these questions is sharing your own response — so have one ready.

57. Did you ever have an imaginary friend?

People love conversational topics that let them reminisce about their childhoods. 

58. If you could trade lives with one person, who would it be?

See how creative people can get! 

59. How would you spend your winnings if you won the lottery?

Whether the response is silly, earnest, selfish, selfless, or just plain weird, this prompt is bound to get people talking

60. If a genie gave you three wishes, what would you wish for?

And you can't say infinite wishes.

61. If you could bring back one canceled TV show, what would it be? 

If you really want to get the conversation going, try to get the group to reach a consensus. 

62. What's your biggest pet peeve?

At least now you'll know not to do it.

63.  Where would you most like to be stranded?

Travelers might not mind it too much.

64. What was the best vacation you ever took?

People love to reminisce about fun trips and travel. And you might get some travel ideas of your own.

65. What's your favorite family or friend tradition? How did it come about?

Some people have some truly strange but fun traditions, and sometimes the origin story is the most fascinating part!

Funny conversation starters

OK, not all of these are laugh-out-loud funny, but they will keep the conversation light.

66. Know any funny conversation starters?

Hopefully, the irony of the question won’t be lost on your potential conversation partner.

67. What's a funny thing you believed when you were younger?

Kids often form some entertaining explanations before they understand how things work. 

68. What's a silly nickname you have or have had?

Beware: Sharing your own silly nickname you used to hate could result in a revival. 

69 – 85. This or that? 

Ask people to make some of these choices on the spot: 

  • Organization or chaos? 

  • Dogs or cats?
  • Snakes or rats?

  • Immortality or the ability to read other people's minds?

  • Would you rather live forever or be happy until you die?

  • Would you rather be too hot or too cold?

  • Books or movies?

  • Stinky cheese — yes or no?

  • Physical books or ebooks?

  • City or country?

  • Backstreet Boys or ‘NSYNC?

  • Music or podcasts?

  • Train or plane?

  • Android or iPhone?

  • Mac or Windows (or Linux)?

  • Winter or summer?

86. What’s your biggest DIY mishap?

For some of us less hands-on individuals, assembling IKEA furniture can count as DIY. 

87. What's your least favorite app?

Time for a venting session. 

88. Were Ross and Rachel really on a break?

If this is no longer an easily understood reference, please don’t tell us and allow us to continue believing we’re young. Thank you. 

Conversation starters to take things to a deeper level

You’re past the icebreakers and you want to get to know your conversation partner a bit more as a person. Try these — and let the conversation take you where it may. 

89. Who would play you in a movie?

It might seem silly, but you'll learn a lot about how someone perceives themself.

90. What book would you bring to a deserted island?

The response can show you a lot about their values.

91. What's one thing you would tell yourself 10 years ago?

Everyone wishes they could make small changes in the way they did something or behaved and opening up about them could bring you closer.

92. What's your favorite word?

It makes you think about language but also about the kinds of concepts that are really important to you and the other person.

93. What about our society do you think would most surprise a time traveler from the future?

People have a lot of different opinions about how society functions — and how it malfunctions.

94. If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be?

You'll find out what kind of people your acquaintance admires or misses the company of.

95. What's one thing you've never told your best friend — but are willing to tell me?

Sometimes people are more likely to divulge their secrets to strangers than friends and family — but don’t push too hard with this one. 

96. If you had one day left to live, how would you spend it?

Time to delve into dreams and goals.

97. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Everybody has a flaw — and chances are they know it.

98. Who has been the most influential person (or people) in your life? 

Their parents? Another family? A group of friends? A teacher? 

99. If you had an extra hour in the day, how would you spend it? 

What do they want more of in their life? For an extra challenge, preemptively ban “sleep” as an answer.

100. What's a favorite memory with your friends or family?

Time to get into what you both really care about. 

101. What do you want to be most known for once you’re gone? 

A bit morbid, but it’ll definitely teach you more about who you’re talking to. 


This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Carly Zinderman is a freelance content provider specializing in lifestyle including travel, food, fashion, beauty, home decor, entertainment, health, fitness and wellness, and green living.
Regina Borsellino also contributed writing, reporting, and/or advice to this article.