Mastering Small Talk: A Guide for Little BIG House Hosts

by Little BIG

Small talk can be the bridge that turns strangers into friends and makes any event more enjoyable. At Little BIG House, our mission is to create connections and foster a welcoming community. Recently, we hosted a training session for our volunteers on the art of small talk, and we’re excited to share some of the insights and tips that emerged. Whether you’re a seasoned conversationalist or just looking to improve your skills, these pointers will help you navigate small talk with ease and confidence.

Tips for Engaging Small Talk

  1. Ask Open Questions
    • Open-ended questions give people more to work with. Instead of asking “Did you like the event?” try “What was your favourite part of the event?”
  2. Expand on Your Responses
    • When someone asks you a closed question, provide a detailed response. Sharing more about yourself can encourage others to open up.
  3. Express Appreciation
    • Always express gratitude for the conversation. It’s a great way to show you value the interaction.
  4. Be Clear When Exiting
    • If you need to leave a conversation, be polite but clear about your intention to move on.

Topic Ideas for Small Talk

  • Current Events: Light news or weather updates.
  • Situational Topics:
    • “Where are you off to?”
    • “What are you listening to?” (when someone has headphones)
    • Observations about your environment: “This coffee shop is always so busy!”
  • Career:
    • Instead of “What do you do?” try “What do you love about your work?”
  • Event Related:
    • “Have you attended other sessions here?”
    • “How did you find out about this event?”
  • Home:
    • Instead of “Where do you live?” ask “What do you love about your area?”
    • “What’s your worst renting story in Sydney?”
  • Weekend Plans:
    • “Any interesting plans this weekend?”
  • Compliments:
    • “That’s a lovely watch. Does it have a story?”
  • Personal Background:
    • “That’s an attractive accent. Where did you pick it up?”
  • Recommendations:
    • “Are you reading anything good at the moment?”
  • Travel:
    • “What has been your favorite holiday?”
  • Hobbies:
    • “What do you do for fun?”
  • Random Fun:
    • “What’s your spirit animal?”
    • “What are your passions?”

Easing into Big Topics

Remember, everyone has different comfort levels with small talk. Some topics can be sensitive, so ease into bigger conversations as people open up.

Bringing Others In

Involving others in the conversation can help create a more inclusive environment:

  • “I want to introduce you to X because…”
  • “Do you know X, they also do Y…”

Elegant Exits

Knowing how to leave a conversation gracefully is just as important as knowing how to start one. Here are some ways to exit:

With a Commitment:

  • “I’ve enjoyed this conversation and would love to do it again. Would you like to [exchange numbers | come to event X | meet for coffee]?”

Without a Commitment:

  • “Thanks for the chat; I hope we bump into each other here again.”
  • “Nice meeting you. Have a great day.”

Making it OK for Them to Leave:

  • “I won’t keep you… / I’ll let you go now…”
  • “It’s been great chatting, if you need a break from all this small talk, we have a quiet space down the back.”

Honest Reasons:

  • “Thanks for the chat. Do you mind if I sneak off? I want to quickly talk to X before they leave.”

Integrating Small Talk into Your Event

Must Do:

  1. Plan your event to encourage interaction.
  2. Set expectations – Little BIG House is about connection.

Good to Do:


  • Ask participants to introduce themselves with a fact.
  • Introduce the person next to you to the group.

Structure & Plan:

  • Share an agenda that includes informal mingling time.
  • Think ahead about potential connections among attendees.

Break the Ice Throughout the Event:

  • Stretch & tell / pair & share.
  • Put people into unexpected groups.
  • Timed activities and games.

Use Tools and Aids:

  • Name tags with conversation starters.
  • Create a wall of post-it note questions.
  • Food and drinks as conversation aids.

Final Thoughts

Small talk is a powerful tool for building connections, but it’s just one part of the equation. At Little BIG House, we want every guest to have a positive experience and make meaningful connections. By being attentive to individual needs and using these tips, our volunteers can help create a warm and inclusive atmosphere where everyone feels welcome. Happy chatting!

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