What Is Small Talk and How Can I Get Better At It?

January 9, 2023

3 min read

Small talk plays a crucial role in building relationships and creating a sense of connection with others. As such, it’s important not to neglect your skill in small talk and work on ways to improve it!

Why Is Small Talk Important?

Small talk is important for three main reasons:

  • Allows people to get to know each other better
  • Establishes common ground
  • Build rapport

By engaging in small talk, people can learn more about each other’s interests and backgrounds. This helps strengthen their relationship and builds trust.

Small talk also helps to make people feel more at ease and comfortable in social situations. This is especially important in professional settings where building relationships is crucial for success.

Additionally, small talk can be an effective way to network and make connections, as it allows people to exchange information and potentially open up new opportunities.

Tips For Easy And Effortless Small Talk

Proper Word Choice

When making small talk, it’s important to choose your words carefully. Below are a few tips that can help you use the proper words:

  • Avoid non-inclusive words. These can include words that are profane, derogatory, and even words that you may casually use such as “guys” when speaking to an audience of different genders.
  • Be mindful of the filler words that you use. Words such as “umm”, “uhhh”, “yeah”, “basically”, etc. indicate nervousness and a lack of confidence.
  • Keep the conversation light and positive and avoid controversial or sensitive subjects. 

Yoodli’s feedback tool allows you to record your speaking so you can be mindful of these tips.

Example of A Speech With Quality Word Choice

One of the best speakers in the world, Oprah Winfrey, does an excellent job with her words. She knows that words are very powerful, particularly when they are delivered in the right way.

Using Yoodli’s feedback tool, we can analyze her Oscar Acceptance Speech here.

Analyzing Oprah Winfrey's Oscar Acceptance Speech Using Yoodli's Feedback Tool - Word Choice Analytics
Analyzing Oprah Winfrey’s Oscar Acceptance Speech Using Yoodli’s Feedback Tool

We see that Oprah does a great job of:

  • Minimizing her repetition
  • Not using any filler words
  • Using relevant top keywords
  • Only using weak words 1% of the time

Delivery

It’s important to practice delivering your message in a confident and positive way. The following are great ways to increase your charisma, charm and delivery when speaking:

  • Pacing your words so it’s not too slow or too rushed
  • Smiling when you talk
  • Using eye contact to show interest
  • Pausing when you speak to allow the other person to respond
  • Actively listening to what the other person has to say 

These behaviors can help to make the conversation feel more natural and engaging. It’s also a good idea to be mindful of your body language and make an effort to appear approachable and open to chatting.

We can analyze the same speech above, but this time, looking at the delivery analytics:

Analyzing Oprah Winfrey's Oscar Acceptance Speech Using Yoodli's Feedback Tool - Delivery Analytics
Analyzing Oprah Winfrey’s Oscar Acceptance Speech Using Yoodli’s Feedback Tool

We can see that her pace was relaxed at 134 words per minute. Her body language is perfectly centered, she incorporates good eye contact with the audience, and pauses throughout the speech.

Techniques For Avoiding Awkward Silences

There are a few techniques that can help you avoid awkward silences when making small talk. One way is to have a few topics in mind before starting a conversation. This can give you something to fall back on if the conversation starts to lull.

The Yoodli Impromptu Speaking Challenge that our founder, Varun Puri, plays is a great way to train your brain to think quickly on its feet:

Yoodli Impromptu Speaking Challenge

Head over to Yoodli’s Gaming Section to check out the other games that you can practice your small talk skills with.

Another way to avoid awkward silences is to follow up on the other person’s responses and ask them more questions about themselves. This can keep the conversation flowing and show that you are interested in what they have to say.

Finally, don’t be afraid to share something about yourself! This can help to create a more balanced and engaging conversation. By using these techniques and staying mindful of the conversation, you can avoid awkward silences and keep the conversation flowing smoothly.

Small Talk Doesn’t Have To Be Difficult. Yoodli’s Free AI Speech Coach Can Help You Become Great At Small Talk

Small talk is an important skill that can help you build relationships, make people feel comfortable, and facilitate networking.

By following the tips and techniques outlined above, you can become more confident and proficient at making small talk.

If you want to take your small talk skills to the next level, consider signing up for Yoodli. With Yoodli, you’ll have access to a range of resources and tools to help you become great at small talk and improve your communication skills.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to enhance your social and professional connections. Sign up for Yoodli today and start making small talk like a pro!