10 tips on making great first conversation

“I love heading into an event on my own to mingle,” said no one ever! Accomplished social butterflies are a rare species. No matter how confident you are, walking into a room full of strangers is daunting, and starting a conversation with someone new – even more so. Please, don’t fret.

We all feel a bit awkward and have a sense of dread in new situations. It's natural. Your internal voice says things like ‘what’s their name again?’, ‘erm, this long silence is a bit uncomfortable’, and ‘do I keep looking straight into their eyes, or away?’

However, more often than not it ends up an uplifting experience, right? That’s the bit to dwell on.

Small talk, big rewards

You’re 100 per cent capable of mastering the art of small talk – you’ve probably just fallen out of practice. Making friends as an adult does feel a lot harder than back in the schoolyard.

Remember, you don’t need to enter the conversation with the aim of leaving as best friends, instead simply focus on enjoying sharing a moment in time and on having an interesting chat.

We canvassed our super-chatty members about the advice they’d give to themselves if they could travel back in time to their first Oddfellows social event. And here they are…

Do give them a try, and why not at one of our friendly social events near you? Who knows where your conversations might lead?

The Oddfellows’ 10 tips on building your conversation confidence

1. Just be yourself.
If you want to make genuine friends there’s no point pretending you’re something you’re not or faking interests that aren’t real!

2. Be patient.

It will take people time to realise how marvellous you are, just like it will take you time to learn how lovely some of the other people in the room are.

3. Don’t feel intimidated.
Your opinions and enthusiasms are valid.

4. Smile and introduce yourself.
It’s a friendly way to start a conversation.

5. Maintain eye contact.
Look people in the eye, smile, nod, show that you’re listening.

Men chatting at an Oddfellows social event
Local Oddfellows Branches put on lots of regular social events that are perfect for laid-back, friendly conversation.

6. Ask questions.
You won’t find much out if you don’t.

7. Discuss the present.
Talk about the event and things going on around you.

8. Don’t just hear, listen.
Really listen to what people have to say. It shows you are interested in them and it helps with asking the next question.

9. Pay compliments.
It’s a great way of showing interest and spreading positivity, and it shows you care about your interaction with them.

10. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Don’t worry about remembering names. You can always ask again later. They probably can’t remember yours either!

Example conversation questions 

Meeting new people in your area

If you’d like to meet other friendly people in your local area and are interested in giving a new social group a try, find out more about your local Branch and who to contact, and the benefits of Oddfellows membership. You can also take a look at upcoming events and activities in your area.

If you’d like to give one of our social events a try, but feel nervous about attending, please don’t be. Our guide on what to expect at an Oddfellows social event is a great read and includes advice on attending on your own.

Our guide to making friends

We've lots more helpful advice in our downloadable guide to making friends, which draws on the experiences of our members, such as how to find friends like you and our top tips to making friends.

Download the guide.