Start Conversations a Better Way & Stop Being Ignored

Start Conversations a Better Way & Stop Being Ignored

Killer Conversation Starters

Tell me if this sounds familiar:  You work up the courage to meet someone and you say, “hi.”

He or she says “hi” back to you.

It’s your turn again.  You say, “I’m ________.  What’s your name?

He or she responds, “I’m  ________.  Nice to meet you.

Then you pause awkwardly, trying to figure out how to keep the conversation going.  Your brain searches for another question to ask.  You come up with one of these:

  • Where do you work?
  • Where are you from?
  • What brings you here?

Each of those questions gets you a one word answer, forcing you to search your brain over-and-over for a question that might get a longer response.

Don’t you find unsuccessful conversations frustrating?


Killer Conversation Starter is an opening line that will (hopefully) start a deep and meaningful conversation.

Is it a pick-up line?  Sort of.  But pick-up lines tend to be either boring or sleazy, and Killer Conversation Starters are not.

(In other parts of the world, pick-up lines are called “chat-up lines.”  I just learned that.)

Before we start working on Killer Conversation Starters, let me give you two suggestions….


The longer your Killer Conversation Starter, the more likely you are to stumble over it.

Remember, your only goal with a Killer Conversation Starter is to get people talking.  You’ll have time to tell them about yourself later.  So, keep it short — one or two lines, maximum.


You don’t want your potential partner to have heard your Killer Conversation Starter before. You don’t want him or her to think you’re just delivering an old pick-up line.  Instead, you want to be saying something fresh and new, which will make you seem interesting and will get your potential partner talking.

Ready to learn about the two types of Killer Conversation Starters?  This is what so many people wait for!  You sure you’re ready?  He we go…


The object of the Opinion Starter, as you might expect, is to ask your potential partner for his or her opinion about an interesting topic.

As you write your own, it is crucial that you keep the question open ended.  Questions that can be answered with a “yes” or a “no” will always be answered with a “yes” or a “no,” and that makes for boring conversations.  So, for example, you do NOT want to ask:

  • Do women think Mick Jagger is sexy?
  • Do you like baseball?
  • Did you come to the workshop to see Jeremy?

Those questions can be answered with a “yes” or a “no,” which does nothing to move your conversation forward.

Instead you want to ask, “Why do women think Mick Jagger is sexy?” or “What do you love about baseball?”  The difference is that the latter questions start with why and what, which require more in-depth answers from your potential partners.

Want to know the great Opinion Starter my client came up with?  You can find it in the Comments section, below, where I want you to share your own Opinion Starters.  Don’t forget to write your Opinion Starter into your Action Plan.


You can use your surroundings to start a conversation.   I call it the Situational Starter.

The most basic Situational Starter is asking someone, “Why are you at this event?” or “What brings you here?”  The problem is that those questions are overused and boring.  Let’s try a more advanced one…

When my friend is online for food or drinks, he likes to stand side-by-side with his potential partner, then look at her over his shoulder and say something like, “I’ll make you a deal…if I get to the head of the line first, I’ll order for both of us, and if you get to there first, you’ll do the same for me.

The reason why it is so effective is that the conversation can go so different ways, for example:

  • You can ask your potential partner what he or she will be ordering and then compliment his or her taste
  • You can even ask your Opinion Starter to get the conversation going
There is a Situational Starter for everything.  Unfortunately, I can’t predict the places you’ll go, so let’s do this….post where you plan to be in the Comments, below, and let your fellow Villagers help you with Situational Starters.  Or, we can work together on writing them.


You’re not going to come up with a great Killer Conversation Starter immediately.  Don’t worry about that!  Try one out…see how it works…consult your fellow Villagers…fix it a little…try it again…and again.  The great thing about a Killer Conversation Starter is that once you find one that works for you, you can perfect it and use it everywhere.

I would suggest having at least one Opinion Starter and one Situational Starter ready every time you go somewhere.  You’ll be more versatile than if you just had one or the other.

Again, post your Killer Conversation Starters to the Comments, below.  Feel free to steal borrow other Villagers’ ideas — we’re all in this together.

Also, your homework is to help grow this Village.  Share, share, share, and then share some more: Twitter Google+ LinkedIn StumbleUpon.


  • Keep your Killer Conversation Starter short.  One or two lines, maximum
  • Create a Killer Conversation Starter that you haven’t heard before
  • One type of Killer Conversation Starter is the Opinion Starter  —  you approach a potential partner and ask him or her for an opinion about something 
  • Suggestion:  Keep the opinion question open ended
  • Share your Opinion Starter in the Comments, below, and see the one my client came up with
  • The second type of Killer Conversation Starter is the Situational Starter — you ask a question based on your surroundings
  • Try to write one that’s more interesting than “What brings you here?
Jeremy Hamburgh
Jeremy Hamburgh
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  1. Jeremy Hamburgh says:

    My client came up with an amazing Opinion Starter:

    “My friend and I were having a debate. Has Nicholas Cage ever been in a good movie?”

  2. Tony Langdon says:

    I have mixed opinions on this one, yes, these conversation starters can elicit a response, though for someone like me, the opinion starters in particular can elicit a “WTF?” (out of context) response and actually shut the conversation down, if they are used improperly! However, where they can work is in the scenario where someone has a particular book in their hand or seems focused on a particular item in the paper, then you can use a “Hey, I see you have a Harry Potter book, what did you think of the movies?”. I have used something significant that a person has on them to start a conversation.

    So for me, to either receive or use conversation starters, they need to be tied into something about the person I’m talking to or a situation we happen to find ourselves in, then the sky’s the limit. Without that contextual link, I find they come across as contrived. With appropriate context, these starters can be the beginning of a new friendship, or even a relationship.

    This has been a bit of a thinking out loud response, but I think there needs to be a mention of establishing a suitable context to use your conversation starters, so they flow nicely, and don’t jar the conversation.

    • Jeremy Hamburgh says:


      I certainly understand and appreciate your point of view, though I’d challenge you to think about these points:

      * Any pick-up line/chat-up line can shut down a conversation, whether used properly or improperly. Think about your fellow Villagers and how many times they’ve been ignored when they said, “Hi” or “What brings you here?” to strangers. My goal is to increase the number of conversations our Villagers are having by making their first words to strangers more interesting.

      * I love the idea of seeing a particular book in someone’s hand and then using a Killer Conversation Starter that is specific to the book. Again, remember that our Villagers aren’t necessarily good at that. Whether because of their diagnoses or their nervousness, thinking of things to say “on the fly” is difficult. That is why it is so important to Know Before You Go — meaning, prepare at home.

      * You worry about saying something that sounds contrived. I’d argue that all pick-up lines are contrived. Even “hello” can sound contrived when you’re nervous. The key to sounding genuine is practice. And practice happens at home, after preparation. Remember, it may sound contrived to you, but when you deliver your Killer Conversation Starter the way you practiced, it doesn’t sound contrived to them…which is what counts when making friends and finding dates.

      Thank you for your strong opinion, Tony. I love a good discussion!



  1. […] past the initial “hello” with your potential partner — perhaps by delivering a Killer Conversation Starter – and you’re having an interesting conversation.  Can you stop smiling? […]

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