A Guide To Opening Conversations In English

For many students learning the English language, opening a conversation can be daunting and awkward. This appears to be a universal fear considering that we would all like to leave a positive impression and not embarrass ourselves by stumbling over our words. However, speaking practice is imperative if you aspire to become fluent in the language. Without biting the bullet and starting conversations with your friends, peers, or colleagues, you will not profit from the much-needed experience required to speak confidently.

So, what are some tips and tricks that you can use that will usher you to take a deep breath and open conversations? 

#1 Greetings

Most conversations in English, as well as in other languages from around the world, begin with a greeting. This is the simplest and most-effective way to open a conversation for any speaker. Depending on the situation, there are a variety of formal and informal greetings that you can employ to break the ice. 

Informal greetings
  • Hi
  • Hey
  • What’s up?
  • Good to see you!
Formal greetings
  • Hello
  • Good morning / afternoon / evening
  • It’s a pleasure to meet you
  • How are you doing?

#2 Master small talk

Small talk consists of polite conversations about casual or informal matters. It is commonly used when speaking to individuals whom you do not know very well or if you find yourself in a social or networking event. As such, mastering small talk is a great asset to foster if you want to get to know someone or expand your connections. Small talk topics include the weather, how your day has been, hobbies, what you do for a living, media and current events, as well as anything else in between. By asking a few casual open-ended questions, this could lead to a much more interesting conversation. 

#3 Give compliments

A compliment is a polite expression of praise or admiration and it is a great way to start a conversation on a positive note. By paying a kind compliment towards someone’s sense of style, food or meal, presentation or speech, or anything else which is personal to them, this can lead to further small talk which will enable you to make quick connections with people. A simple “your bag is cute” or “your presentation was super interesting” can go a very long way. Perhaps you will even receive a compliment in return! 

#4 Ask for recommendations

Asking for suggestions is an effective way to practice forming open-ended questions as well as retrieving information that you can benefit from. Whether it’s a recommendation for a book, restaurant, movie, or holiday location, asking for suggestions is a brilliant method to open up a light-hearted discussion about everyday topics where you can share opinions.  


Final tip! If you open up a conversation with one of the greetings mentioned above or with a compliment, try and follow this up with some small talk or recommendations to keep the conversation going. If you do not say anything after the initial “hello”, then the conversation will dry up quicker than the Sahara Desert! 

Do you feel confident opening conversations when speaking English? Let us know your thoughts!