Updated: May 01, 2022

171 Great Conversation Starters & Topics for Work in 2023

You found our list of the best conversation starters and topics for work.

Conversation starters are talking topics that start discussions with coworkers. For instance, “what TV shows are you watching?” and “do you have any plans for the holidays?” These subjects and questions are ways to learn more about teammates and build a rapport with colleagues, and may lay the foundation for work friendships.

These prompts are similar to icebreaker questions and get to know you questions. You can use these phrases to spark discussions at virtual water coolers or during online social gatherings.

This post includes:

  • conversation starter generator
  • conversation topics for adults
  • basic work conversation starters
  • interesting conversation starters
  • funny conversation starters
  • conversation starters for work meetings
  • conversation starters for work events
  • conversation starters for work lunches
  • conversation starters for work parties

Here we go!

Conversation starter generator

We made this conversation starter generator to randomly populate talking topics.


Conversation topics for adults

Here are some of the best conversation topics for adults to use for small chat at work.

1. Hobbies

Hobbies are one of the most popular talking points. People often like to talk about their passions. Learning what coworkers do in their spare time can help you understand and appreciate them as full-fledged human beings. Plus, finding out that you share an interest with someone can provide opportunities for future conversations.

2. Vacations or Travel

Many folks love traveling or taking time off to unwind. Trips are an exciting and engaging conversation topic. You can ask about past travels, or plans for upcoming trips. These chats often offer a chance to bond over common destinations, and to swap recommendations and tips.

Even folks who tend to stay closer to home may be excited to share their finds, or just to focus on thoughts of rest and relaxation.

3. Food

Food has strong cultural significance and is a powerful community building tool. Everyone eats, and most folks have strong feelings about food. You can talk about favorite foods, restaurants, memories from childhood, dishes to make, and cooking fails. “What are you eating?” or “Have you eaten anything good lately?” are easy conversation starters. This topic is not overtly personal, yet can reveal surprisingly personal details.

4. Weather

When folks complain about small talk, they often use weather chat as an example. However, there is a reason the weather is a go-to talking topic. Weather affects everyone, and is a common factor for folks who might not have many obvious similarities. On dispersed teams, differences in weather can be fascinating, and talking about extreme snow or heat or precipitation often leads folks to talk about the climate in past places they have lived.

5. Current Events

Part of the lure of the news is that it gives the public something to talk about, especially since many folks have opinions about big stories. “Did you hear about….” or “what do you think about….” are effective conversation starters, even with strangers. You can also share less mainstream reports as an opener, such as, “I read the most interesting thing the other day…”

Note that these talks can get heated, and it is often best to steer away from overly political or controversial topics until you have a relationship with someone and know how they will react.

6. Media

Movies, music, and television bring people together by offering a shared experience that is easy to talk about. “Seen any good movies lately?” or “What are you currently binge watching on Netflix?” are easy icebreakers. Most folks unwind by watching a film or show or listening to music and like to talk about popular films or shows or bands, recite quotes, share opinions and make recommendations.

7. Office News

Adults spend a significant amount of time at work. Even if you are not sure about your coworkers outside lives, you can connect over office news. For instance, new locations, changes in leadership, product announcements, partnerships, new policies or procedures, or new employees. The “news” can be as simple as, “have you tried the new coffee maker in the breakroom?”

You can post office news on company bulletin boards to help prompt conversations.

8. Holidays

Holidays are one of the best conversation topics. These occasions involve special activities that differ from the normal routine, and since the events are seasonal, conversations do not get stale. “Do you have any holiday plans?” is an easy opener, as is talking about holiday traditions. If you observe a non-mainstream holiday, then you can talk about the special ways you celebrate the day with folks who may not be familiar with the occasion. The conversation may even end with making plans to do a holiday-based activity.

9. Home

“Where do you live?” or “where do you call home?” are the most common questions in this category. Having a home is a basic human need, and many folks have strong feelings about the places they live. You can chat about the country, city, state, and neighborhood. You can also get hyper specific and talk about the other person’s apartment or house, for instance, “what is your favorite place to be in your house?” or “what is your favorite feature of your house?”

10. Sports

Part of the fun of being a sports fan is the thrill of being part of a crowd. Folks tend to feel passionately about their hometeams, and major sporting events like The Super Bowl or The World Cup, or the local team’s home game can stir up excitement and openings for conversations. Even folks who support different teams can find common ground in the love of the game, or friendly rivalry.

11. Internet Pop Culture

The internet plays a big role in modern society and has come to have its own culture and jokes. Most folks spend a significant amount of time online both for work and personal pleasure, and news in the cyber world spreads fast. Talking about a viral video or article or the latest social media trend or scandal can make for interesting conversations. Plus, you can often let a video or picture break the ice for you.

12. Technology

Technology evolves constantly, and new products and app launches tend to be newsworthy events. Talking about new devices and gadgets can be a way to connect with others. Some folks feel very strongly about their preferred brands, devices, or operating systems, and you can also get recommendations for reliable gadgets or programs to try.

13. Family

Family plays a major role in most societies, and is one of the most important parts of many folks’ lives. Questions like “do you have siblings?” or “do you have kids?” are fairly common conversation starters. Once you know a person fairly well, you can ask after certain family members. Parents are often eager to swap tips or give updates on their growing kids. Plus, talking about family quirks and sharing funny stories can be good for laughs.

14. Animals

Few folks are ever too old to talk about animals. People tend to perk up when a set of fuzzy ears enters the office or the Zoom screen, and that same reaction extends to conversions. Talking about pets is a powerful way to connect since animal lovers have strong feelings about their critters. Swapping pet pictures or telling animal anecdotes makes for a fun conversation topic.

Here is a list of fun office pets to chat about too.

15. Goals

Most folks have things they hope to accomplish, both inside and outside of work. Talking about goals can be a way to bond with other people. Announcing these ambitions can keep people motivated to keep improving, and when the other person achieves progress or success you can both celebrate. Since it can be awkward to randomly ask about goals, the best way to approach the subject is to share a bit about your own self-improvement plans, and then encourage the other person to reciprocate.

16. Pet Peeves

Anger has a surprising power to bring folks together. Venting about life’s little annoyances can be a way to bond with strangers or coworkers. Few folks enjoy situations like waiting in line, traffic, and having to pay for unexpected repairs. These conversations offer opportunities to validate the suffer’s feelings, offer sympathy, and bond over the mutual dislike of inconveniences.

17. Fantasies

Conversations do not have to be rooted in reality to be engaging and revealing. Talking about dreams and fantasies can be one of the most lively conversation topics. For example, winning the lottery, going on a dream vacation, or becoming a celebrity. It can be fun to imagine a different kind of lifestyle with no limits, and sharing these wishes can give insight into folks’ personalities and priorities.

Examples of conversation starters & prompts

Basic work conversation starters

  1. How is it going?
  2. How is your family/spouse/kids?
  3. What did you do this weekend?
  4. Any plans for this coming weekend?
  5. How is your workload these days?
  6. How about this weather?
  7. Any vacations/trips coming up?
  8. Do you have any hobbies?
  9. Are you a part of any clubs?
  10. How are your pets? (And, do you have any recent photos?)
  11. How are your kids?
  12. Do you have siblings?
  13. What was the last interesting book you read?
  14. What TV shows are you watching?
  15. What was the last new movie you saw?
  16. What does your work playlist look like these days?
  17. Have you lived in this city long?
  18. Did you catch the game?
  19. Are you planning to check out (a local event happening soon, like a festival, or a large scale event, like the Oscars)?
  20. How long have you been with the company?
  21. Have you tried that new coffee in the break room?
  22. I am going to grab coffee/lunch. Can I get you anything?

Interesting conversation starters

  1. What childhood show would you like to see rebooted?
  2. What is something you had not thought about for years and suddenly remembered or were reminded of?
  3. Who is a stranger who made a big impact on your life?/Who is a stranger you will never forget?
  4. What is the most unexpected piece of advice you ever received?
  5. What is the most unexplainable thing/strangest coincidence that has ever happened to you or someone you know?
  6. What is one change you hope to see in the world during your lifetime?
  7. What phrase drives you crazy?
  8. If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would buy?
  9. What is at the top of your bucket list?
  10. What is the weirdest thing you ever found while cleaning?
  11. If you had to choose any other profession, which one would it be and why?
  12. What is the last charity you donated to?
  13. If you had to write a book, what would you write about?
  14. What is a non-work goal you are trying to achieve?
  15. Where is the coolest place you have ever been?
  16. What is the silliest or strangest injury you have ever gotten?
  17. What is something that humbled you?
  18. What is one thing you could do every day for the rest of your life?
  19. What is one thing you would like to never have to do again?
  20. What is one skill you would really love to learn?
  21. What do you hope to be remembered for?
  22. Are you named after anyone/what does your name mean?
  23. What is your most treasured family possession?

Funny conversation starters

  1. Did you ever think that quicksand would be a much bigger problem in your life?
  2. Who is the strangest person you have ever met?
  3. What random word do you hate?
  4. What is the first thing that comes to mind when I say ridiculous?
  5. Have you ever been hypnotized?
  6. What celebrity would you be least surprised to find out is an alien?
  7. What is the most random dream you have had recently?
  8. What task on your to-do list do you keep procrastinating?
  9. What is the funniest thing you have ever convinced a child of?
  10. What is the silliest thing you believed as a kid?
  11. What is the funniest or most savage thing you ever heard a child say?
  12. What quirks do your pets have?
  13. If you were a supervillain, what would your evil plan be? (And, where would you build your lair?)
  14. If your pet could talk, what embarrassing information might they reveal about you?
  15. Who is your strangest relative?
  16. What is the funniest or most bizarre conversation you ever overheard?
  17. What was the most awkward thing that happened to you or someone you know on a date?
  18. What is the funniest misunderstanding that ever happened to you?
  19. What is your most persistent pet peeve?
  20. What seemingly inconsequential thing do you feel so strongly about that you are willing to argue about it?
  21. You are in an elaborate Oceans-11 style heist movie. Who do you recruit to be part of your crew?
  22. What never fails to make you laugh?
  23. What was the last thing that made you laugh so hard that you cried?
  24. You are an evil villain with a plan to minorly inconvenience the most number of people in the office possible. What do you do?
  25. If you were a ghost, who would you haunt?
  26. How do you think you would you react if you were on a hidden camera prank show?

Conversation starters for work meetings

  1. Can anybody here do a convincing celebrity impression?
  2. What is one thing you learned this week?
  3. What is one thing you are grateful for this week?
  4. What is the best meal you have eaten so far this week?
  5. Does anybody have any personal wins they would like to share?
  6. What is an unexpected roadblock you ran into this week?
  7. What is the funniest fail that happened to you recently?
  8. What is your best recent discovery?
  9. What is the nicest interaction you have ever had with a client/customer?
  10. What is one nice thing a coworker (past or present) did for you?
  11. If money was no object, what luxury would you like to see in the office?
  12. What are you most excited about work-wise in the coming quarter?
  13. How do you wind down after work?
  14. What is your morning routine?
  15. What is one thing that brings you joy right now?
  16. What is a good work hack that you recommend everyone try?
  17. Do you prefer Zoom meetings or in-person meetings?
  18. Do you prefer morning or afternoon meetings?
  19. Breakfast meeting, lunch meeting, or dinner meeting?
  20. Would you rather have a meal meeting or a walking meeting?
  21. What is the strangest excuse you have ever heard someone give for missing a meeting?
  22. Where is the strangest place you have ever joined a meeting from or had a meeting in?
  23. What snack would you love to see stocked in the break room?

Conversation starters for work events

  1. Have you ever been to one of these events before?
  2. Have you ever been here (the event venue) before?
  3. What are you eating/drinking?
  4. Are you going to attend another upcoming work event?
  5. Where do you hope the next event will take place?
  6. Is there anyone here you do not know?
  7. Did you see (something else at the event venue)?
  8. What’s new in your department?
  9. Have you heard the news about (recent company update)?
  10. What would you be doing right now if you weren’t here?
  11. What do you think they will talk about during the event?
  12. What are you hoping to take away from this event?
  13. Is there anyone here you recommend that I connect with?
  14. Is there anyone here you are hoping you get a chance to talk to?
  15. What part of the event are you most looking forward to?
  16. (For a long event, such as a weekend) Are you staying for the whole event?
  17. Have you met (new employee)?
  18. What is a good habit that improved your life that you wished you started doing sooner?
  19. What are you proudest of?
  20. What is your most recent obsession?
  21. What is your go-to conversation starter?

Conversation starters for work lunches

  1. What do you think you will order?
  2. Have you been to/eaten from this restaurant before?
  3. Would you split a dessert with me?
  4. Do you have any food allergies?
  5. Have you tried any other good restaurants lately?
  6. Do you listen to any podcasts? Any suggestions?
  7. Do you like to cook? What is your favorite thing to make? Have you made anything tasty lately?
  8. Did you see (recent viral video)?
  9. What are your top three all-time favorite movies?
  10. Which actor would play you in a movie?
  11. What do you have the most photos of on your phone?
  12. Which app do you use the most?
  13. How are you going to use your (work perk)?
  14. If you could have lunch with anyone in the world who would it be?
  15. What is a food that reminds you of childhood?
  16. What is your go-to snack?
  17. What is the most surprising thing you recently learned?
  18. Do you have any special secret talents?
  19. Where is your “happy place?”
  20. What do you love most about your home?
  21. What is the most important quality for you in a work friendship?
  22. Do you have any items you saved from childhood?
  23. What is an impulse purchase you do not regret?
  24. What is the most fun you have ever had?
  25. What is an experience you thought was going to be awful that turned out to be amazing?

Conversation starters for work parties

  1. What do you recommend I try off the buffet?
  2. Do you think we will get goodie bags?
  3. Did you request any songs from the DJ?
  4. Are you going to dance later?
  5. Did you attend the holiday party last year?
  6. Did you enter the giveaway?
  7. How long do you think it took them to decorate?
  8. Who here do you think is the best dancer?
  9. Did you finish your holiday shopping?
  10. Any plans for (upcoming holiday)?
  11. Did you make any New Year’s resolutions?
  12. Have you heard about (news story)?
  13. Who are your guests?
  14. Your outfit is nice. Where did you get it?
  15. What is your favorite thing to bring to a party?

Final Thoughts

Starting conversations with strangers can be tricky. Sometimes, we can draw a blank even when trying to chat with people we know well. However, as human beings we have a lot more in common than we realize, and there is no shortage of ways to kick off conversations. The questions and topics on this list provide some of the most reliable means to start conversations.

If it feels unnatural to start a conversation with a question, then you can share a piece of information about yourself or the chosen subject before moving onto a question. In general, asking questions is a good way to keep conversations going, because it shows that you have interest in the other person’s ideas and point of view.

Once you know a person better you can personalize your comments. Until then, these talking topics are a way to make a connection so that you can form a bond and start to learn more about each other.

Next, check out this list of This or That questions, and this list of communication books.

FAQ: Conversation starters

Here are answers to common questions about work conversation starters.

What are some good conversation starters for work events?

Some good conversation starters for work events include “what are you eating?” “who are your guests?” and “do you have any plans for the upcoming holidays?” Folks often default to shop talk when at work events because they may not know anything else that they have in common with coworkers, yet at work parties or outings many folks want to relax and not talk about work. It is often better to make small talk about general human interests, and then allow the conversation to flow from there.

How do you start conversations at work?

To start conversations with peers at work, ask a question about a general topic such as work, weather, holidays, or movies, and keep the conversation going by asking follow up questions. Starting with a broad topic is a good way to connect with lesser-known peers. Once you start building a rapport, then you can reference previous conversations and ask more personal questions.

What conversation topics should you avoid at work?

Conversation topics to avoid at work include religion, politics, and subjects of a sexual nature. Also, try to steer clear from criticizing non-work matters, especially weight or appearance. You should avoid oversharing intimate details that may make coworkers uncomfortable. Similarly, while you can ask about colleagues to learn more about them, you should avoid prying and being overly curious if your coworkers seem like they are not interested in volunteering personal information. A good guideline to keep in mind is that if the conversation might land you in HR’s office, then you should probably drop the topic or stay silent.

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Marketing Coordinator at teambuilding.com.
Team building content expert. Angela has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and worked as a community manager with Yelp to plan events for businesses.

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