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Conversation Starters and Conversation Topics

Do you need some great conversation starters?

Silence is not always golden — not when you’re faced with an awkwardly silent first date, an uncomfortably quiet family dinner, or a chance encounter with a casual acquaintance at a cocktail party.

In situations like these, you can get the conversation started with a single question. Imagine what you can do with 137 of them!

Herewith you’ll find a litany of tried-and-true conversation starters. So prepare to schmooze away. Because right now, we’re going to put words in your mouth.

First-date icebreakers

1.) Are you a morning person or a nighttime person?
(If you want a representative sample of participants, ask this question in the afternoon.)

2.) Are you a dog person or a cat person?
(Dog people get all excited and slobber all over you when you ask this question; cat people turn away and ignore you completely.)

3.) Can you spell your name backward?
(People may have a problem answering if they’re tongue-tied.)

4.) Do you sleep on your back at night?
(If “yes,” ask them their opinion of side-sleepers.)

5.) Do you do Wordle?
(Or, if that’s too obvious, Quordle.)

Best conversation starters and topics.

6.) What’s your sign?
(If this is your pickup line, be prepared to get a “thumbs-down” sign.)

7.) What’s the best concert you ever went to?
(It’s probably the one where they couldn’t hear a thing because everyone was screaming.)

8.) Do you play a musical instrument?
(Careful, they may drag their clarinet out and give you an impromptu concert — not the best one you ever went to!)

9.) What’s the best book you have ever read?
(Be prepared for a response like, “Oh, c’mon, nobody reads anymore.”)

10.) Do you ever cry in movies?
(Men will take longer to respond than women.)

Breaking the ice conversation starters

11.) Do you prefer comedies or dramas?
(If they say “dramedies,” that’s a copout.)

12.) What’s the last book you read?
(Try not to look too disappointed if they tell you Pat the Bunny.)

13.) Can you name the seven dwarfs?
(If someone’s unable to answer this completely, it’s because he’s Bashful.)

14.) Can you name the 21 grains in Dave’s Killer Bread?
(They are above average if they can think of anything beyond wheat, corn, oats, and rice. )

15.) If you could come back as an animal, what would it be?
(People will probably have their answer well rehearsed because they’ve heard celebrities asked this question on countless talk shows.)

16.) If you could take one thing to a desert island, what would it be?
(This is a tough one because what good is a cellphone without a charger for it?)

Favorite Conversation Topics

17.) What’s your favorite mode of transportation?
(Extra credit if they answer, “My legs.”)

18.) What’s your favorite flower?
(Hopefully, they’ll be able to pick their favorite.)

19.) What’s your favorite place to visit?
(Ask them this, and they’re liable to tell you where to go.)

20.) What’s your favorite TV show?
(There’s one chance in 450,000 it’ll be the same as yours.)

21.) What’s your favorite color?
(The answers here cover the spectrum.)

22.) Who’s your favorite singer?
(You may want to clarify beforehand whether you consider rappers singers.)

23.) What’s your favorite song?
(If they say “You Talk Too Much,” you may want to cool it with the questions.)

24.) Who’s your favorite movie star?
(Perfectly logical to ask while eating popcorn, waiting for the film to start.)

25.) What’s your favorite film?
(If they respond “35 millimeters,” you’re barking up the wrong tree.)

26.) What’s your favorite game?
(If they say “elephant” or “rhinoceros,” you’d better “Clue” them in.)

Let's talk - ice breakers.

Good conversation starters

27.) What’s your favorite food?
(If you are what you eat, this will tell you all you need to know about a person.)

28.) What’s your favorite dessert?
(A sensible question — because eyes will sparkle, mouths will salivate, but not one pound will be gained.)

29.) What’s your favorite meal — breakfast, lunch, or dinner?
(The actual answer may be, “Whichever one happens to be coming up next.”)

30.) What’s your favorite vacation spot?
(And the follow-up question: “Is your passport up to date?”)

31.) What’s your favorite sport?
(Their Yankees cap or 49ers jersey may be a dead giveaway.)

32.) Who’s your favorite athlete?
(People tend to be fickle in their answers. You’re only as good as your last season.)

33.) Who is your favorite comedian?
(The name they come up with will likely provoke some laughter.)

34.) What’s your favorite social media site?
(It’s wherever they put the most “likes.”)

Things to talk about

35.) What’s your favorite season?
(To interpret their answer, you’ll need to have them give you some latitude.)

36.) What’s your favorite month?
(Let them page thru a calendar so that you can get an honest, thoughtful answer.)

37.) What’s your favorite city?
(If they say “right here at home,” tell them, “Oh gosh, and here I was all set to get you an airline ticket to your favorite city.”)

38.) What’s your favorite quote?
(Don’t be surprised if you get something like Apple: +9.16%.)

39.) What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?
(Be sure they give you the latest scoop.)

40.) What’s your favorite kind of pie?
(Be prepared for responses like “Pepperoni and mushroom.”)

41.) What’s your favorite type of ethnic cuisine?
(If they say something other than Italian, Mexican, or Chinese, they’re just trying to impress you.)

42.) What’s your favorite beverage?
(To ensure a more accurate response, this could be phrased as, “What’s your favorite alcoholic beverage?”)

43.) What’s your favorite hobby?
(You can avoid the awkwardness by saying, “Mine is asking silly questions.”)

44.) What’s your favorite painting?
(Don’t require them to get more specific than, “That one by Van Gogh, with all the stars.”)

45.) What’s your favorite foreign language?
(In answering this, people can’t resist throwing in a few words from their favorite language. For example Francais, s’il te/vous plait)

Life’s big questions

46.) Do you believe in the Bible?
(Could also be asked as, “Do you believe in miracles?)

47.) Where are you on the political spectrum?
(Be careful with this one if you value your friendship.)

48.) Where would you like to be in 10 years?
(Probably not wise to ask this of people older than 60.)

49.) Are you religious?
(If they answer “no,” ask them if they’ll swear it on the Bible.)

50.) Do you want to have kids?
(You won’t get many “yes” answers from people who are currently raising them.)

51.) Do you believe in Fate?
(The real question is whether their response is predetermined and inevitable.)

Philosophical conversation starters

52.) Do you believe we’re here for a reason?
(Explain to them that you mean “beyond answering this question.”)

53.) Is there life after death?
(Make sure they understand that you’re talking about their own life, not all the people they leave behind.)

54.) If you could live your life over, would you do the same things?
(Many respondents will say, “Yes, but I’d do them better.”)

Newsworthy topics worthy of discussion

55.) How serious is climate change?
(Simply asking the question is bound to raise the temperature.

56.) Do you understand the metaverse?
(If they answer “yes,” please have them explain it to the rest of us.)

57.) Should collegiate athletes be paid?
(Answers may vary depending on whether you’re asking a collegiate athlete or a college provost.)

58.) How do you feel about solar energy.?
(This will tell you if they have a sunny disposition.)

59.) Would you have a pit bull as a pet?
(The answer might come back to bite them.)

60.) How is Pluto different from actual planets?
(If this is too esoteric, you can ask how Pluto differs from Goofy.)

61.) Do you feel good about the switch to electric automobiles?
(The “yes’s” want to hurry it up; the “no’s” just want to step on the gas.)

62.) Do you recycle?
(The “yes’s” are anxious about landfills; the “no’s” have separation anxiety.)

63.) Should there be a four-day workweek?
(Probably sounds more appealing than asking if there should be a ten-hour workday four days a week.)

64.) How old is too old to be President of the United States?
(People will answer this in any number of ways.)

65.) Should dogs be allowed at work?
(Hopefully, people working at humane societies will answer “yes.”)

66.) In the 21st century, is there any reason to have kings and queens?
(C’mon, can you imagine a game of chess without them?)

A grab bag of topics to talk about

67.) Where do you get your news?
(Depending on their answer, they may be getting opinions, not news.)

68.) Would you rather play checkers or chess?
(More diplomatic than simply asking for their IQ.)

69.) Ever been in love?
(Probably best not to ask this to a married person.)

70.) Do you believe in love at first sight?
(Probably best not to ask this to a blind person.)

71.) Do you prefer sightseeing vacations or beaches?
(In other words, “Are you more interested in the world or your tan?”)

72.) Do you dream in color?
(Before answering this question, people may want to sleep on it.)

73.) Do you prefer boxers or briefs?
(When you want to get to the underlying answers.)

74.) What was your best subject in high school?
(The answers here will be highly subjective.)

75.) What are you most afraid of?
(Be prepared for some frightful responses.)

76.) What time do you get up in the morning?
(Sleeping too late may be cause for alarm.)

77.) Do you have cable TV, satellite TV, or something else?
(Whichever one they answer, they’ll probably tell you they’re planning to switch because of their problems.)

Converse easily with these straightforward conversation starters

78.) Have you had your tonsils out?
(They should be able to give you an operative statement.)

79.) What’s the most pain you’ve ever been in?
(Judging by recent TV commercials, the answer may be shingles.)

80.) What’s the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you?
(Do you really expect them to tell you?)

81.) How old would you like to be when you die?
(The older the person you ask, the older the age they’re likely to tell you.)

82.) Would you rather be a participant or an observer in sports?
(Being a participant is definitely cheaper than going to watch the pros — until you get to the age where injuries start wracking up doctor bills.)

Small talk

83.) Who will win the pennant/title/division this year?
(The confidence of their response may depend on how much money they’ve got riding on the outcome.)

84.) Are you superstitious?
(Most people will say “no” unless a black cat happens to be crossing their path at the time. )

85.) Do you go to church/synagogue/mosque regularly?
(You may want to clarify whether “once a year” is considered “regularly.”)

86.) What’s the most important quality for you in a life partner?
(For an informed opinion, the best person to ask is their life partner.)

87.) Do you believe in big weddings?
(Could be enlightening to compare their answers before and after their big wedding.)

88.) Would you like to go into outer space?
(The number of “yes” responses increases as the climate continues to warm.)

89.) What’s your pet peeve?
(Be careful; it might be “Being asked stupid questions.”)

Fun conversation starters

Trying to make folks feel comfortable to converse is the goal of good conversation starters.

90.) Who do you most admire in the world?
(If they respond “You are,” be sure to say you are humbled.)

91.) What country would you be happiest living in?
(Unless they’ve already lived in every country, I wouldn’t take their answer too seriously.)

92.) How often do you go in for a routine checkup?
(If they say “every 10,000 miles,” you might want to clarify.)

93.) How often do you have your teeth cleaned?
(Most people go in twice a day, once in the morning and once at night.)

94.) Do you floss?
(Most people do, but nobody knows for sure why.)

95.) Do you prefer the aisle seat or the window seat on a plane?
(It depends on whether they’d rather stretch their legs or their horizons.)

96.) Would you rather work from home or in the office?
(It depends on whether or not they like to wear pants over their underpants.)

97.) How do you feel about using 4-letter words?
(Expect answers like “X!*X, they’re X!*X’in cool.”)

98.) Do you like hot showers or cold showers?
(Try to discourage lukewarm responses.)

99.) Do you prefer showers or baths?
(If you’ve seen Psycho, you’re probably prejudiced.)

100.) Would you rather read a book or listen to an audiobook?
(You know which one multi-taskers are going to prefer.)

How to talk to people

101.) Do you believe in reincarnation?
(They may want you to ask them again in a thousand years.)

102.) What’s your earliest memory?
(Before they respond, the question may bring a far-away look in their eye and a smile to their face.)

103.) Do you speak a foreign language?
(Expect either a lengthy, affirmative response in a foreign language or a simple, “No, señor.”)

104.) How much money do you expect to have when you retire?
(Probably less than they’ll actually wind up having.)

105.) How much money do you think you’ll need to retire comfortably?
(Probably more than they’ll actually wind up having.)

106.) Would you eat a fried beetle?
(Their answer will tell you if they’d ever make the cut on Survivor.)

107.) Is “what you know” or “who you know” most important?
(Maybe it’s a good thing if the “what” that you know is the importance of “who you know.”)

108.) Do you like to keep windows open where you live?
(Hopefully, they’re living with someone who will answer this question the same way.)

Discussion topics

Some conversation starters address the common thread of experiences that nearly all people share.

109.) Do you like to drive with a window open?
(Their responses might offer a breath of fresh air.)

110.) Are you good at keeping secrets?
(It may be prudent to ask them this before you say another word.)

111.) Have you ever had an out-of-body experience?
(They may have one if you start asking too many questions like this.)

112.) When you go out to eat, how big a tip do you leave?
(Not appropriate if “going out to eat” means McDonald’s.)

113.) Do you prefer motels or Airbnbs?
(Whatever they answer, it’s likely to be with reservations.)

114.) How’s Tricks?
(This question is especially appropriate if you have a mutual friend named Trixie.)

115.) How fast can you say, “How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood”?
(They’re sure to get flustered when you take your timer out.)

116.) Do you like to take long walks?
(Be sure to clarify if you’re referring to walking on stilts.)

117.) Do you like to be out in nature?
(Chances are, “Yes,” as long as they can take their cellphone.)

118.) When was the last time you went to the movies?
(Typical response: “You mean in an actual theater?)

119.) Do you tweet?
(Careful, you might get a smartass who says, “No, I chirp.”)

120.) What’s your best tweet?
(It doesn’t count if they stole it from some famous person.)

121.) Would you rather follow a lot of people online or have a lot of online followers?
(Problem is, it’s hard to have one without the other.)

Making conversation

These conversation starters range from the basic to the more sophisticated.

122.) How do you like your eggs?
(You have your hard-boiled types, your over-easy types, and sometimes the answers are scrambled.)

123.) Are you more likely to be the first one or the last one to leave a party?
(Make sure they know you’re not talking about political parties.)

124.) Is it hard for you to get to appointments on time?
(Or is the problem that everyone else doesn’t know how to be late?)

125.) If you’re equally hungry and tired, what would you do first — eat or sleep?
(Some may prefer to do them concurrently, being fed intravenously in their sleep.)

126.) What do you consider yourself superior at?
(Don’t let anyone tell you they’re superior at displaying humility.)

127.) What would you most like to know about me?
(This is kind of a self-centered thing to ask, don’cha think?)

128.) Do you tend to dominate the conversation or prefer to listen?
(If their response goes on and on, you’ve got your answer.)

129.) Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
(They shouldn’t feel self-conscious about their answer —after all, we’re all verts.)

130.) How important is going to college?
(You may want to correlate their responses with how much they owe on their college loans.)

131.) Can you stand on your head?
(This can be a sneaky way of finding out if someone is into yoga.)

132.) Would you prefer to die quickly?
(Make sure they understand that “quickly” does not mean “soon.”)

133.) Would you like to go back and live your life over again?
(Discourage abrupt responses — they’ve got a lot of stuff to mull over first.)

Deep conversation questions

134.) What quality are you most looking for in a friend?
(To get them in the proper mood for answering this question, you may want to accompany it with a recording of “You’ve Got A Friend” — Carole King or James Taylor version.)

135.) Do you like what your parents named you?
(The answer might depend on how well it fits in with the lyrics of “The Name Game.”)

136.) What makes you nervous?
(If they answer “Nothing,” ask them, “Not even that roach climbing up your leg?” Their reaction may invalidate their answer.)

137.) What kind of rides do you like at an amusement park?
(Responses will correlate with their propensity to upchuck popcorn and cotton candy.)

We hope you enjoyed our list of 137 Surefire Conversation starters. They are a good way to get to know a person you’ve just met. Now, it’s time to get out there and converse.

By Art Novak

Art Novak is an Emmy-winning writer, novelist, and Professor Emeritus at Savannah College of Art and Design.


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