Idea 043: 5 Topics to Start a Conversation

Imagine if you went to a seminar on your own. You knew that it was a great chance to make some new friends and build some relationships, but you didn’t know how to start a conversation except saying “Hi” or talking about the weather. Are you going to let this opportunity slip away?

It’s Not Hard to Start a Conversation

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Most people don’t know how to start a conversation, especially to strangers. These kind of people might not be boring people. They could have plenty of topic to discuss when they are talking about something they are interested in. Yet, they always feel nervous when they need to start a conversation.

To be honest, I am still learning how to start a conversation with others. I am an introvert who don’t want to be under spotlight. I feel comfortable when I am alone and working on the thing I like. However, the truth is I need to build some network in my life, so that whenever I seek for help, I can look for it from my network.

Building a network requires building relationship with others, which in turn requires communication with others. Whether communications go well or not depends on the topic of the communication, and how we start it.

Today I am going to show you 5 simple topics to start a conversation. If you always focus on these 5 things, you can always start any conversations easily.

Starting With Them

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Unless it is too personal, people LOVE to talk about themselves, especially when the topics are about their favourite.

After graduation from University, it is getting harder to keep in touch with my closed friends in College. If I am lucky, I can arrange a gathering once per year and 90% of my closed friends will attend, otherwise we might not see each other for a year or two.

Everybody is struggling for their own lives. This is what life is about and I don’t blame anyone. However, sometimes if I am going to meet my closed friends again, I tend to do some homework before head – I go to their social platforms and check what they have been doing recently.

Most of the people like to share their lives, their emotions, their thought, their special moments, etc, on their social platforms. This is good for them to deal with the pressure at work or in their lives, and also good for us to find out the conversation topics for the coming gathering.

I tend to read the posts on their social platforms for the past 3-6 months, and memorize some special posts for my “conversation topics” database. I recalled that I once saw a photo of my friends having a girl night with her gal in a beautiful hotel. That became one of the favourite topics in our conversation in our gathering later.

This is not only for closed friends who didn’t meet for a long time, but it also works when we meet some strangers. All we need to do is to ask some questions that is related to them, for example, about their hobbies, their recent overseas experience, or even their weekends.

People tend to love talking about themselves just because it is what they are familiar with, what they can share easily without second thought, and what they will feel comfortable and happy to tell others (except those really personal stuff).

Starting With Us

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If our targets don’t really want to share themselves to us, there is still another way to start the conversation – we can talk about ourselves.

People are born to be curious. We are curious about the world, others’ lives, others’ thought, etc. We might not want to share ourselves to others, but we definitely want to know more about others. This is human nature.

Therefore, most of the time, if we start a conversation by talking about ourselves, we will attract others to talk.

I recently met a guy online after I saw his Youtube videos. He is a Hongkonger who showed positive mindset and entrepreneurial spirit in his videos. I was attracted by that attitude and decided to chat with him.

After my introduction I started to talk about myself. For example, I spent a lot of time watching motivational Youtube videos, listening to audio books, learning the mindset of great entrepreneurs, etc. I also shared my thought and my philosophy to him.

He was interested in what I was saying, and thought that I was so authentic and different from most of the Hongkongers at my age (they tend to be pessimistic and didn’t want to change). Since then, we talked and shared our thought to each others frequently.

When we meet someone, they tend not to talk too much about themselves because they don’t know if we are worth to befriend with. Sometimes they might think that we approach them with special purposes. As a result, this creates a wall between us. By talking about ourselves, we can help break the wall in between and gain their trust.

Starting With Dreams

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I am not talking about the dreams that we have when we are sleeping, but the dream of our lives. We all have dreams in our lives, no matter they are big or small.

Someone dreams to be good parents, someone dreams to run their own businesses, someone dreams to become millionaires, someone dreams to have normal and happy lives. There is an old saying in Chinese, “if we don’t have dream, we are already dead.” It tells us that dreams are important in our lives.

I notice that the moment when people start talking about their dreams in , people are getting really interested in the conversations. I first noticed that when I told others about my dream of being one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world. I told them that started working on this dream by absorbing a lot of knowledge and experience from different kind of entrepreneurs as nutrients from the Internet and from different books.

People tended to be curious about how I could make my dream come true. They really wanted to know the details of my plan, and the obstacles I had when I was executing my plan. Although I was still in the early stage of my plan, I did share a lot of thought on learning.

I could see why people were so interested when I talked about my dream. It it because it reminded them of theirs. They might be dreaming of doing something before, but they somehow gave it up or put it aside just because they went into bottleneck and couldn’t figure out the ways out. Eventually, they decided to continue their lives without the dreams.

My actions just simply reminded them the happiness of chasing dreams. People does not only love to talk about dreams, but they also love to talk about how one is going to do to make the dream come true. From that, they can get some ideas of how to make THEIR own dreams come true.

Starting With Work

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Believe it or not, while most of us don’t like our jobs, we surprisingly like to talk about our job.

The reason why we don’t like our jobs is simple – we don’t work on something we like. Most of the time, we pick our job simply based on our education backgrounds, our experience, the money we could earn. We rarely pick our work based on our interests.

However, because we have encountered a lot of issues in our jobs, we always like to share it with others.

People working in Finance might actually love painting, and people working as lawyer might actually love writing blogs. They don’t like their work because they always need to work overtime, or they need to handle trouble customers, or their bosses and teammates don’t treat them fairly and friendly.

Ironically, we spent half day on average per day on these joyless jobs, which make them one of our most familiar things in our lives.

When I make new friends, one of my “standard” questions would be “What are you doing now?”, followed by “What exactly does your position do?”. Then, people will start describing their current jobs and complaining about the disadvantages of their jobs.

Most of the time we are not working in the same industry, so we are willing to learn more about the good things and bad things of each other’s industry, or even the thought on the company culture, working environment, team, etc. This in turn creates a lot of follow up topics in the conversation.

Starting With The World

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If we really couldn’t think of anything to start a conversation, we can consider talking about the world. There are tons of new things happened in the world everyday. For example, the trade war between America and China, the COVID-19 pandemic, the environmental issues, the President election in America, etc.

If we don’t want to talk about something serious, then we can gossip on celebrities, talk about the recent achievement of SpaceX, or the upcoming iphone 12 in Oct 2020.

Besides, since most of the people is currently unable to go on vacations in other countries, we can talk about what we know about the culture and knowledge of other countries, what kind of food we can enjoy there, what kind of tourist attractions people would recommend there, etc.

The key here is – there are limitless topics we can talk about when we are focusing on the world. It just depends on whether we dare to ask or not. Most of the time we don’t want to talk about this in order to hide the fact that we don’t have much knowledge on the world’s issue. However, we are not sitting on examinations but just trying to have some casual talks with others. Therefore, there is no point of being afraid.


Starting a conversation is not difficult. In fact, it is all about adjusting our mindset. We tend to be afraid of asking stupid or boring questions, afraid of sharing our thought and experience to others, afraid of being judged by the content of the conversation, afraid of leaving bad impression to others.

In fact, most of the people simply want to talk. They don’t mind the topics to be discussed but just want to get to know others a little bit more than before.

Therefore, all we need to do is to start any conversation topics confidently, and let others see our true self. To conclude, we can start a conversation by:

  1. starting to talk about them;
  2. starting to talk about us;
  3. starting to talk about dreams;
  4. starting to talk about work; and
  5. starting to talk about the world.


If you have any questions or have anything things to share, you can reach out to me via email

Besides, if you want to know more about what I have learnt from other successful people, you can click the below link. This could the one of the life-changing articles for you:

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