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  • Hello.

  • My name is Emma, and in today's video we are going to talk about something very, very important

  • in English, and that is small talk.

  • Okay?

  • So, I'm first going to talk about: What is small talk?

  • And then I'm going to talk about the good things to do in order to make good small talk,

  • and the don'ts - the things we don't do when we're making small talk.

  • Okay, so first of all, what is "small talk"?

  • Very good question.

  • So, I've written some question words up here: "What?", "Who?", "Where/When?", "Why?", and

  • "How?"

  • So, what is "small talk"?

  • "Small talk" is a type of conversation.

  • It's conversation we make with people we don't know that well.

  • Okay?

  • So, it's conversation we make when we don't really know people that well.

  • We use small talk not with our family, not with our friends; we use small talk with strangers

  • - with people we don't know.

  • We use it with acquaintances.

  • And for those of you who don't know, "acquaintance" is somebody you know, but not really well.

  • So, for example, your neighbour might be an acquaintance.

  • Your friend's friend might be an acquaintance.

  • So, with strangers, with acquaintances, people you know their name but you don't really know

  • them well.

  • With your co-workers, with your boss, with your neighbours, with the clerk at the store

  • maybe - if you like to go to a cafe, you might use it with the person who works at the cafe.

  • So, small talk is for people you don't know that well.

  • So, where and when?

  • We've already talked of a couple of examples.

  • Have you ever been on an elevator, and everybody's look at their phone; nobody's making eye contact?

  • A lot of people will make small talk on elevators.

  • At parties.

  • We use small talk at parties.

  • We use them when we're in line ups; sometimes we talk to people near us.

  • We use them at conferences when we're in business or academics.

  • We use them in our classes.

  • When you have a classmate, you don't know them that well, you would probably use small

  • talk.

  • And there are many, many other situations you use small talk.

  • So, why do we use small talk?

  • Well, number one, we want to be friendly.

  • Okay?

  • When we meet somebody, we don't want to seem rude, we don't want to seem unfriendly; we

  • want to seem friendly, so we use small talk.

  • We use small talk to meet new people.

  • A lot of students, when they come to other countries, they want to meet new people.

  • A good way to do that is by using small talk.

  • We want to not feel uncomfortable.

  • Okay?

  • We want to feel comfortable; not uncomfortable.

  • If, for example, you're in an elevator and nobody's talking, it makes everybody feel

  • a little bit uncomfortable.

  • Small talk could make that situation feel more comfortable.

  • We also use small talk to make other people feel comfortable.

  • Okay?

  • We're trying to make a connection with other people and make them feel comfortable, too.

  • All right?

  • So, key point: Small talk we use for people we don't know that well; we use it for strangers,

  • acquaintances, neighbours.

  • Do we use it for family and friends?

  • Not really.

  • We use it for many different types of situations, and we use it for multiple reasons.

  • So now I'm going to teach you some great ways to make small talk.

  • Okay, so remember small talk is for everybody.

  • So, we want to keep the conversation easy, and things everybody can talk about.

  • Okay?

  • So, what are some things that would make great small talk?

  • Well, first of all, I want you to imagine you're at a party and you don't know anyone,

  • and you want to talk to somebody.

  • Here are some great things you could say.

  • So, to start, you can talk about the place you're in or the venue.

  • Okay?

  • So, for example, if music is playing, you can just say to someone: "Oh, I love this

  • song", and that can start a conversation.

  • Or maybe you can say: "What a great apartment this is" or "Isn't that such a beautiful painting?

  • You know, it's such a nice painting."

  • So, what you can do is you can start by talking about the place you're in; whatever is around

  • you.

  • "You know, this restaurant, it's so busy; it's packed" is another thing you could say.

  • So, you can talk about the place you're in.

  • Another good thing to talk about, if you want to start a conversation, if you want to start

  • small talk, you can compliment somebody.

  • So, for example: "Wow, I love your earrings.

  • Where did you get them from?"

  • Or: "What a beautiful shirt.", "I love your purse.", "That's such a nice scarf."

  • Okay?

  • So, if you compliment someone, you can ask them where they bought it from, and that can

  • open up a conversation.

  • Another good thing you can use for small talk is you can talk about your connections to

  • people in the area.

  • So, for example, if you're at a party, you might want to know how the person knows the

  • host of the party.

  • So, you might ask: "So, how do you know the host?", "How do you know Frank?", "How do

  • you know Amy?", "How do you know my sister?"

  • Okay?

  • So, this just establishes how you...

  • How the person fits into your life.

  • So, it's a really good question to ask if you're at a party, if you're at any type of

  • event.

  • You can also ask: "Do you know many people here?"

  • If yes: "Who do you know here?"

  • Okay?

  • Another good question you can ask is you can ask people where they're from.

  • So, this I'm calling location.

  • You can ask them: "Oh, are you from Toronto?" if you're in Toronto.

  • If you're in Paris, you can ask them: "Are you from Paris?"

  • If they say: "Yes", you can ask them: "What neighbourhood did they grow up in?"

  • If they say: "No", you can say: "Where are you from?

  • You know, how long have you lived here for?

  • You know, what do you think of this city?"

  • So these are types of questions you can ask about a city or a location you're in.

  • These all make for great small talk topics.

  • So, let's look at some more.

  • Another great thing you can talk about, another great topic for small talk is asking somebody

  • for recommendations.

  • Okay?

  • So, for example, if you're at a party and, you know, you've already said hello, you can

  • ask them: "I'm new to this city.

  • Anything you would recommend to see?"

  • Or: "Anything you would recommend to do?"; "I'm new to this neighbourhood" - maybe you've

  • just moved to a new neighbourhood.

  • So, it's always good to ask people for recommendations and suggestions on what to do.

  • You might ask them: "What's a good restaurant in this city?", "Do you have a favourite restaurant?"

  • You know, and then...

  • The purpose of this is it can lead to other topics.

  • So, this is a way to open up conversation.

  • You might ask: "What's a good coffee shop?", "What's a good cafe?"

  • So this is a really good thing to do.

  • Sometimes we, in small talk-it's very simple-we just want to know what somebody does for work.

  • So, we might ask them: "So, what do you do for a living?", "Are you a student?", "Where

  • do you work?"

  • Okay?

  • Very common questions we ask in small talk.

  • We talk often about weather, especially for those elevator situations or if you're in

  • a line up and, you know, there's an older person in front of you, a lot of the times

  • we talk about weather.

  • So, you might ask...

  • Or you might even just say a comment: "What a beautiful day.", "What a horrible day.",

  • "What a snowy day.", "What a cold day.", "What a hot day."

  • Now, this is really good to talk about if you're in a country where the weather changes

  • a lot.

  • So, the US, this is great; Canada, England.

  • But if you're in a really hot country where the weather is always hot and always the same,

  • then weather is not really the best subject.

  • It's good to choose weather if it actually does change a lot.

  • Another example: "Can you believe the weather today?

  • It's so beautiful out."

  • Okay?

  • So, this is a great thing you can talk about, and this leads to other conversation topics.

  • Sports and movies, or hobbies are also great small talk topics.

  • So, you might ask somebody: "What sports do you follow?"

  • Maybe there's a local team.

  • Maybe you live in a city where there's a local hockey team, or a soccer team, or a baseball

  • team, and you can ask the person: "Oh, did you watch the hockey game last night?", "Did

  • you watch the soccer game last night?

  • What did you think?"

  • Or you can ask them about movies: "Have you seen any good movies lately?", "What kind

  • of movies do you like?"

  • So, these are all great questions.

  • And remember, with all of these questions, these are just openings.

  • So, the purpose of this is you want to make the conversation longer.

  • The way to do this is to ask more questions.

  • Ask questions about the other person.

  • These are just ways to start small talk.

  • Now I'm going to tell you about some things you should not do when you're making small

  • talk.

  • Okay?

  • The don'ts of small talk.