After greeting your business partner, it’s time for a little smalltalk. It relaxes the atmosphere and eases potentially tense situations. Even when you meet someone for the first time, whether it’s at an event, a business dinner or an interview, smalltalk is a good idea. In our Business Etiquette guide, we advise you on how to master the art of smalltalk.
Of course, you want to convey your own opinion on a discussion theme but hold back a little. Listen to your conversation partner and let them speak. Pose open questions so that it becomes a dialogue rather than a monologue.
Advantages of smalltalk
During smalltalk, don’t speak about business. Get to know your discussion partner better and learn more about them. This way, you can find out whether you have things in common and the same goals and visions. Lay the foundation for future discussions.
The right smalltalk themes
• The weather (the classic topic!)
• The event or the occasion that you are currently attending
• The region or city where the business meeting is taking place
• Current news/facts
• (Local) sport
• Holiday destinations (particularly popular during vacation seasons)
How to start smalltalk
Embarrassing silences are uncomfortable. Be brave and start the discussion with a relaxed and friendly opening. If you are at a big event, ask your conversation partner about their job, where they work and where they come from. You can also ask how they know the host and talk about the event itself.
Don’t just listen to your discussion partner attentively, think about your entire body language. Smile, and maintain eye contact and an open posture.
You can learn the art of smalltalk. Use every opportunity to practice in everyday situations: Chat about simple themes when shopping, in a café, or before a concert or a theater performance. You will, for certain, learn something new. In addition, you can watch others engaging in smalltalk and learn from them.
After a while, you need to move onto business. Lead the discussion gently and not to abruptly in a business direction. If you are at an event, you can end the smalltalk by introducing another discussion partner. You can also break off the conversation with a reason to move on: “Excuse me, I’m going to get something to eat/drink now.” In general, find a positive way to end a conversation, exchange business cards and conclude with something like “It was nice to meet you.”