50 good conversation starters for any (and every) situation

Open with something funny, deep or somewhere in between.

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It’s rare to meet someone who doesn’t get any nerves striking up a conversation. Seriously, even people who appear confident probably give themselves an internal pep talk before they open their mouth.

Throughout your life, you’ll have the opportunity to meet new people in all sorts of situations. There are first dates, networking events, housewarming parties and dating apps — to name a few. Knowing the right conversation starters can help you put your best foot forward.

But even with a few conversation starters up your sleeve, it can be scary to chat with someone you don't know. Instead of letting your fears get the best of you, Saba Harouni Lurie, ATR-BC, a licensed marriage and family therapist and founder of Take Root Therapy, recommends picturing the conversation going positively or imagining you’re speaking to a trusted friend.

"Anchoring yourself in the possibility of feeling connected and well-received may make it easier to approach someone new and initiate a conversation while accessing feelings of confidence and ease,” Harouni Lurie tells TODAY.com.

Tell yourself positive affirmations such as “I am enough” and “I am great” when you start to question yourself, Roma Williams, LMFT-S, the founder and clinical director of Unload It Therapy, tells TODAY.com.

While you can always lead with a funny opener to make them laugh, don’t shy away from deep questions about their goals or feelings. “If you’re looking to start a conversation in general, a great rule of thumb would be to find a common ground,” Rachael Farina, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells TODAY.com. 

But before you lean in with a joke or though-provoking question, licensed marriage and family therapist Angela Sitka advises thinking about your intention for speaking with someone. This may be to discover more about their passions or shed light on your similarities. “Repeat the intention out loud and find opportunities to bring the intention into your interactions with this person,” she says. 

We asked the aforementioned experts to provide their best conversation starters to help you keep things flowing. Some are random and lighthearted, while others spark larger discussions.

The next time you’re preparing to talk to someone new, scan through this list, take a deep breath and go for it.

  1. How are you really doing today?
  2. What brings you to this event?
  3. Who do you know here?
  4. What do you do?
  5. That’s a nice X you’re wearing.
  6. I love your sense of style. Have you always been someone savvy with fashion or did you develop your style over time?
  7. Your tattoo/jewelry caught my attention. Is there a story behind it?
  8. What’s your most treasured item?
  9. Have you been here before? 
  10. How do you spend your days? 
  11. Where did you last travel to?
  12. Where’s next on your list to visit? 
  13. Have you read any good books lately?
  14. Have you watched any good shows recently? 
  15. Have you listened to any good podcasts lately?
  16. Who never fails to make you laugh?
  17. What books/ movies/ TV shows do you recommend?
  18. Have you ever read X? I’d happily swap with you. 
  19. Where did you grow up?
  20. What brought you to move here? 
  21. Where would you like to visit?
  22. What made you laugh this week?
  23. If you could be anyone else for a day, who would you choose and why?
  24. How long have you worked with X?
  25. What do you love most about your job?
  26. What’s something you’ve always been curious to learn more about? 
  27. What’s your favorite fun fact?
  28. How did you get into doing X hobby?
  29. I was looking around the room for someone new to talk to and I got the vibe you might be a friendly person to chat with. I’m X.
  30. I was feeling nervous and excited coming into this date, but I am glad I’m here with you. How were you feeling before this event?
  31. Am I similar to what you expected? 
  32. What surprised you about me?
  33. How are you feeling so far? 
  34. What are your passions?
  35. What are your goals this week?
  36. What do you hope to accomplish this year?
  37. Where do you see yourself in five years? 
  38. What would you like to change about your life in the next year? 
  39. What do you look for in a potential employee?
  40. What do you look for in a potential partner?
  41. What’s a memory that always makes you smile?
  42. What did you think of X speech/showing earlier? 
  43. Have you seen X exhibit? 
  44. Have you ever tried doing X activity? 
  45. What’s your favorite thing about yourself? 
  46. What’s something about you that surprises people?
  47. Are you a dog or cat person?
  48. Who is the most important person in your life right now?
  49. What's the stupidest joke you've ever heard?
  50. What's the worst date you've been on? The best?