20 Meaningful Conversation Starters to Avoid Small Talk

Whether you're trying to get to know someone on a first date or you're stuck in the elevator with your upstairs neighbor, breaking the ice can be an awkward challenge. While it's tempting to turn to the weather to get the conversation going, why not take the opportunity to try to get to know someone rather than commiserate about the weather?

In our search for meaningful ways to avoid mind-numbing small talk, we asked our Instagram followers to share their go-to conversation starters. As soon as the DMs started rolling in, we knew we had to share their genius icebreakers here.

conversation starter questions
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After the initial "Where are you from? What do you do?" questions, I love asking people what their pet peeves are! Their answers are normally pretty hilarious!

I love to talk about travel. I'll either ask someone, "What's your favorite place you've ever visited?" or "If you could go anywhere tomorrow, where would it be?"

What are you binge-watching on Netflix these days?

What's the best thing that happened to you today?

I usually ask, "What do you do?" but lately, I think I should ask people, "What brings you joy?" instead!

"Seen any great movies lately?" I ask family, friends, co-workers, everyone, this question! Works every time.

What was the first concert you went to?

Who is your role model?

This is a really weird and out-there conversation starter/icebreaker, but this question is my go-to: "If you were stranded on an island with your pet but there was no food and no hope of rescue in the near future, would you eat your pet to survive?" It's a little dark and you get weird looks, but it never fails to get people talking. Plus, people get really passionate and into hypotheticals, so it's fun to see where the conversation goes.

If you were to walk into this place with one song playing, what would it be?

What will you fight for? This cuts right to the heart of the matter: What do you stand for? What is most important to you? What do you care most about? 

What was your favorite song as a kid?

Do you have any tattoos?

Who do you admire? Whether it's a parent, a rock star or a president, the people we admire are a window into how we see ourselves.

So, have you accepted Greta Gerwig as your lord and savior yet?

What's your biggest fear?

How would people close to you describe you? What people think others think about them can be very enlightening in terms of how they see themselves.

What age do you feel? Is the person wiser than their years or still a child at heart?

What charitable causes do you support?

Do you think there are aliens?

Editor's note: Some quotes have been edited slightly for readability.

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