Sometimes it can be a challenge to strike up conversation with people. You don’t know what to say, how to say it, or if the other person wants to talk to you. This creates a decent level of stress when it comes to starting a simple conversation!
Here are 8 quirky ways to easily start a conversation with anyone!
1. Keep toys with you
Cameron Kelley, the co-founder of Ryze, has a small lamborghini computer mouse. Every single time we work together in public, someone ALWAYS comments on the mouse and strikes up a conversation with us! All because of a simple computer mouse.
Think about different toys, gadgets, or even fidget toys you can keep with you. These can become easy conversation starters. I’ve recently been keeping a handful of magnetic sculpture balls with me. It’s mostly to help with my fidgeting, but I’ve had several people comment on the different little structures I’ve made with them while in public.
An added bonus to keeping toys is you’ll instantly boost your creativity and sense of childhood. Nothing like keeping a mini lego set with you to spark some imagination.
2. Wear a name tag
Investing in a personal name tag seems like an odd idea, but you never know when you may want people to know your name. It makes you seem official, confident, and open to conversations!
I’ve customized mine to say, “Lucas Bazemore. Ask me about Ryze.” This gives someone around me the option to ask me specifically about Ryze. Some other ideas I’ve thought about adding under my name include:
- “I’ve been bitten by a zebra”
- “Guess my favorite ice cream.”
- “If you’re reading this, you’re awesome.”
- “But you can call me whatever you want.”
At the very least, someone will say, “You left your name tag on!” to which you can reply, “Thanks! I was wondering when someone was going to remind me!” And you can share a laugh.
3. Carry an umbrella
Rain or shine, carrying an umbrella with you is always a good idea. It’s also the perfect moment to strike up a conversation with anyone!
When it’s raining, just offer to share the umbrella with the closest person to you. If it’s a particularly hot or sunny day, you can do the same thing. Just open the umbrella, turn the nearest person and say, “Hey, come share my umbrella! No need to get wet!”
I keep a small retractable umbrella with me at all times. It’s not very large, so when I do share, I usually get pretty wet. But being able to share the umbrella is worth more than a few raindrops.
4. Give away candy
This is definitely the easiest and most effective way to start a conversation. Everyone loves a little sugar. All you have to do is keep small amount of candy with you.
I always keep a fresh pack of gum with me, and I only use it to share with others. When I want to talk to someone, I just pull out the pack of gum, and offer them a stick. Super easy. Over the years, I’ve tried several different items. Here are some of the items which have resonated best with people:
- Jelly beans
- Hershey kisses
- Oddly, Animal crackers
I’d be curious to know what else seems to work.
5. Keep extra supplies on you
Keeping a few extra pens and pencils is always a great way to help someone out when they’re in a pickle. Because I tend to work remote, or move around a lot, I usually keep a small bag with the following items:
- The only pencils I’ve ever loved
- Mini stapler
- Pencil lead
- Colored stickers
- Sticky notes
- Dry erase markers
- Paper clips
It may seem like a lot, but I usually share one of these items once a week with a stranger. It keeps me prepared and I get to be helpful to someone else. It’s a very natural transition to starting a conversation.
6. Ask someone to take a picture with you
This may be the most uncomfortable one for most people, but can work wonders. Just pull out your phone, and ask the person next to you to join you in a selfie. Just say you’re documenting your travels, life, and people you meet.
While I was sitting on the bus I took this selfie with Rahsheed. It was definitely awkward at first, but we soon hit it off! He told me he was from South Africa, he was studying to become a civil engineer, and he aspired to build large bridges. Little did he know that he built a bridge that day.
Then ask if it’s okay to post online and tag them in it. If not, just keep it for yourself!
7. Ask for something
If I just want to strike up a conversation, I usually ask for something I know they’ll have: the time, directions, or the weather forecast. This usually let’s me transition to talking about what I’ve got going on later in the day.
Ideas for easy asks:
- “Do you happen to have the time?”
- “Do you know when the next train/ bus/ taxi is coming?”
- “Do you know if it’s going to rain later today?”
- “Do you know where I can find a great restaurant for a party of two?”
- “Do you know what the best gym/ yoga/ crafting/ any hobby store is around here?”
- “Hey, I’ve been looking for a new realtor, you don’t have anyone you recommend do you?”
- “Hey, I’m curious if there are any interesting events going on this weekend. Do you know of any?”
All of these are harmless questions most people won’t think twice about answering. And even if you already know where the closest yoga studio is, it gives you the opportunity to start a conversation about potential mutual interests.
8. Make an exclamation
This is definitely a weird one, but I’ve had success with it.
While standing or walking next to someone, just make a verbal exclamation like “Wow!”, “What?!”, “No way”, “Seriously?!”. Exclaim it just loud enough for the person next to you to hear, and then make eye contact with them. They will look at you, and when they do, tell them what got you excited!
It definitely helps to have something semi-news worthy! Usually I go with something interesting from Twitter. Or I go with something completely silly like, “I just realized the reason Patrick from Spongebob is so clueless is because he lives under a rock.” or “I just realized the brain is the only organ to name itself.”
The alternative to an exclamation is to jump or bust a move. It’s a little embarrassing, but it shows excitement and energy. You’ll almost always get someone’s attention.
Bonus: Just give a compliment
While it is the most basic conversation starter of all, it never ceases to delight. Compliment someone’s shirt, hair, beard, posture, smile, glasses, confidence, or anything else you notice. The compliment isn’t just flattery, it’s a sincere gesture of kindness toward someone else.
Don’t stress: Build the relationship
Most people don’t want to talk to strangers because they think they’ll have to commit to something. This is the wrong mentality to assume. I almost always strike up a conversation with the intention of getting nothing from it. If there is a relationship to build further, then we cross that bridge when we get there.
However if you’re looking to build your network you can always take the next steps. You can invite them to coffee, offer to help them, and genuinely be interested in them.
Hopefully one of these quirky conversation starters will help you meet someone and start to build a new relationship!