5 basic tips you need to know to make small talk

Auch wenn manche Kreise ihn verpönen, Small Talk ist eine hohe Kunst.
Mit diesen 5 Tipps gelingt Ihnen das selbst auf Englisch. Kurze Frage noch vorab: In Ihrem Job setzt man perfekte britische und amerikanische Korrespondenz, Gespräche, Telefonate und sicheren Small Talk mit Geschäftsbesuchen voraus? Dann sollten Sie jetzt Secretary Today – das neue 20-Minuten-Englisch-Training – zum kostenlosen 30-Tage-Test anfordern. Klicken Sie hier ...

Many people don’t like making small talk, even in their own language. In a foreign language is’s even worse. But you don’t need to worry. These tips will help you gain confidence in making small talk in English.

1 Take the initiative and be the first to say hello

  • Hello, I’m Johanna Schwarz from XYZ company.

2 Ask open questions

Open questions (ones that you can’t answer simply with yes or no) are very effective for a conversation. Here are some examples:

  • Why did you choose this hotel?

3 Give opinions

Give your opinion, then shoot the ball back.

  • I really liked that talk. What did you think?

4 Show you are listening to others by giving feedback

When others are talking, listen carefully and give feedback like this:

  • Really? Why was that?

5 Include everyone in the conversation

Make sure that not only one person dominates the small talk. Include others like this:

  • So are the rest of you from Munich too?

Remember, you’re probably not the only one terrified of making small talk, but by following these few easy steps, you’ll soon get the conversation flowing.


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Making successful small talk involves more than saying just ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Do you know enough phrases to show you are actively involved in the conversation? Test your knowledge here.

Match the two halves of these short dialogues:




Conversation 1


1. I’d like to buy a small present for my son’s birthday. I thought about a CD.

a) Well, who else does he like?


2. He might have bought it himself by now.

b) That’s always a good idea. What about the new Bon Jovi?

3. I don’t know, really. Maybe I can get him something by a German band. German music isn’t very popular in Britain.

c) Is that so? I wonder why.

4. Well, notmany people speak German. Maybe that’s the reason.

d) It certainly is. 

5. Yes, strange, isn’t it?

e) I’d love to. Perhaps we could call round to the record store in the lunch break. What do you think?

6. Well, there must be some good German music I could take home with me. Maybe you could recommend something good.

f) My pleasure

7. That’s very kind of you.



g) Yes but English music is popular around the world, even people who don’t speak English listen to it.


Conversation 2


1. How is your new chancellor getting on with her job?

a) Well, I suppose it makes a change. But I don’t think it’s really that important. Do you?


2. Do you think it’s important that she’s a woman?

b) Well, actually, I think they’re a bit over the top.

3. I wouldn’t know either. But what do you think of the new parental leave concept. Your family minister really has some revolutionary ideas. 

c) I really wouldn’t like to say. But she seems popular enough at the moment.

4. Why’s that?

d) Well, I just wonder if many people will really agree with them. But time will tell, won’t it?



Conversation 1: 1 - b, 2 - a, 3 - c, 4 - g, 5 - d, 6 - e, 7 - f • Conversation 2: 1 - c, 2 - a, 3 - b, 4 - d

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