Here’s a quick how-to video (2.5 minutes) from Steve Dalton, a career services director at Duke University and the author of the excellent job search networking guide The Two-Hour Job Search, to make small talk less anxious and more effective.
What I love about this video is that Dalton provides a simple, easy structure – a sort of mini road map through the opening of a conversation – that you can easily learn. He provides three common conversation-starter questions to ask, along with guidelines about how to respond to the answers you receive.
Have you watched the video yet?
What did you think about Dalton’s framework? Which parts of it do you already do in your small talk? Which parts could you benefit from adopting?
Do you want to really learn this framework and make it a habit, so it isn’t just one more video you see then forget about? Here are some learning suggestions to really get this down. Pick the one(s) that best fit your style:
- Take notes: Then summarize Dalton’s three conversation questions and other key points on a sticky note for quick reference.
- Review: Bookmark this post and review the video a couple more times during the week.
- Get social: Share it on social media and/or watch the video with a friend.
- Practice with a partner: Take as little as two minutes to role-play the whole three-question conversation. When you can do it well without looking at your notes, you’re done.
- Prepare for an actual job search situation: Pick a person you’ll be interviewing with or networking with in the near future, look them up on LinkedIn and make small talk with their headshot!
It’s a good idea to spend a little time learning how to make small talk for interviews and job search. It will pay off in other areas of life as well.