9 Odd But Brilliant Small Talk Hacks Anyone Who Wants To Make a Better Impression Should Know

Ad failed to load

As a self-professed introvert, my small talk topics instantly divert to the weather. I'm not the best at chatting about inconsequential tidbits at parties — I'd much rather get into the-meaning-of life conversations — so I'm always looking for odd but brilliant small talk hacks to make a better impression on people and not get stuck in those awkward silences.

There are countless Ted Talks and self-improvement guides on how to be the life of the party or be more outgoing, but I've found some quirky tips that could help any introvert navigate the deep void of the social stratosphere. What do I mean by that? A lot of times when I know I'm going to a big event or into a group interview, I do prep and research. I know it sounds a bit nerdy, but this ritual of sorts gets me in the mental attitude to flex my social muscles and talk about fashion, sports, what I ate today, and topics that reach far beyond Hurricane Irma or how San Francisco is always foggy.

A lot of what I focus on is body language and looking receptive to what others are saying. I play to my strengths of being a natural born listener, and I'm able to listen more and talk less. For any introvert, this will be your diamond in the rough. Here are nine odd but brilliant small talk hacks I use that anyone can master to make a good impression.

Ad failed to load

1Do the Starfish


Inc.com calls this a power pose and I agree. Anytime I have to hop on a video call or walk into a group interview — or even know I'm going to an event like an art gallery opening — I sneak into the bathroom and hold this pose for at least 30 seconds at a time. Amy Cudy, who developed this technique, says that power posing can make you feel more confident. By tapping in to your your confidence, you have the advantage of being able to steer the conversation into your comfort zone, which will help you make a great impression without seeming overbearing.

2Use 'Open' Body Language


According to a study conducted in the 1950s by Albert Mehrabian, more than 55 percent of the English language is nonverbal, reported the New York Times. Because of that, human beings infer a lot from the way the people they are talking to stand, react to facial expressions, or place their arms. Open body language communicates interest and a receptiveness to listening, noted the Huffington Post. What does that mean exactly? Head nods, uncrossed arms, a straight posture, and eye contact, for examples, all give clues about how you're feeling. Another helpful tip is to do something called mirroring. This is where you, in a low-key way, mimic something about the person or people you're talking to, from their smile, to the way they lean in. Doing this expresses an interest. You're subtly communicating a good impression by noticing their movements and following their lead.

3Create A Question List


If I'm ever particularly nervous about going to a social event, I come up with three to five questions or topics I know I could talk about for at least 10 minutes. Most of them inherently end up being about food (because... well, everyone eats), but by reading the news or knowing what happened at the last game, I'm not drowning in a sea of silence looking for a topic to talk about. Here are some great conversation starters on Pinterest.

Ad failed to load

4Plan An Escape Route


I know what you're thinking. This is the exact opposite of a good impression. But, consider a time when you had the longest, most drawn out conversation about something. How did you think of that person afterward? Chances are it felt like time was slowly ticking by, and you didn't have a way out. Plan this ahead, so you're able to leave a positive impression while making the person you're talking to feel like you respect their time. Say you're going to go get a drink, head to the bathroom, or say you have to catch up with someone who just walked in. Whatever you're most comfortable with, this tactic will save you.

5A Better Way Than Imagining Them in Underwear


Face it, imagining someone in their underwear is probably more traumatic than helpful in making an impression. Instead, imagine there's a sign around their neck that says, "I'm just like you." Understanding that the person you're speaking to is likely just as nervous and eager on making a first impression should make you feel more at ease.

6Yes, And...


In improv, there's this game called "Yes and." A person starts with an action, and the other people in the group take it and add something to it. By doing a version of this, you're promoting positivity and getting them to tell a story, which will help give you a break in steering the conversation. It also prevents conversations in small talk that can be answered in two sentences. Check out this great "Yes and" YouTube tutorial.

Ad failed to load

7Understand The Halo Effect

beyonceVEVO on YouTube

According to Jonathan Wai, a PhD and psychologist writing for Business Insider, the halo effect is liking everything about someone you've just met based on one trait or experience. You can harness this by presenting your agreeableness and best features right off the bat to elicit a positive emotion.

8Dress The Part


They way you dress has a significant impact on your self confidence. The Daily Mail reported on the findings of Professor Karen Pine from the University of Hertfordshire, who researched how a person's attire affects confidence. She found that students were more assured when wearing a Superman t-shirt, and women performed worse in a math test when wearing a swimsuit. Dress the part, and you'll feel the part.

9You Are Kind, You Are Smart, You Are Confident


Along the lines of the starfish power posing, find a mantra or something that you can recite mentally right before diving into a conversation. It will be your pump-up song, and you can use it anytime you need to feel a mental boost.

Watch Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

Check out the entire Romper’s Doula Diaries series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

15 Baby Names With Unique Nicknames, So Your Family Has Options

I love a good diminutive name, also known as a nickname. I believe I’m partial to them because of my own name, Abigale, but I go by Abi. And since they’re both uniquely spelled, everyone thinks my name is pronounced Ah-bee for some reason — but even …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

The Entire Family Can Enjoy These Movies & Shows Coming To Netflix In June

It's just one of those sad facts of life: every month, shows and movies vanish from Netflix, their varied excitements no longer at your fingertips. But luckily the streaming service is always prepared to fill that content void with lots of new things…
By Megan Walsh

The Reason Why Babies Smile At You Will Seriously Make You Smile

Whether you're currently the recipient of your own baby's sweet smiles or you just seem to be a magnet for baby grins in general, you might find yourself wondering why babies are always smiling at you. Sure, you could be a 'smile whisperer' but scien…
By Kate Miller

8 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say That, Yes, You Are Their Favorite

For a baby to show a preference for a specific person is not only normal, but an essential part of their development. Babies need to form strong attachments to their caregivers for their emotional, social, and physical wellbeing. Usually, but not alw…
By Kimmie Fink

10 Reasons Why I Won't Apologize For Giving My Toddler A Pacifier

My first child had no interest in a pacifier. I tried a couple times to get him to take one, but he always spat them out and gave me an incredulous, judgmental look. But my second? It was love at first suckle. And after a while, the incredulous, judg…
By Jamie Kenney

Being A Dog Parent Prepared Me For Having A Baby, Really

I’ve always wanted kids; I was never as sure about raising a puppy. Then I spent six months living with someone who brought home an eight-week-old golden retriever puppy, and I see no way to make it out of that experience claiming not to love dogs. I…
By Heather Caplan

20 Of The Most Popular Unisex Names Of All Time, That You'll Be Hearing More Of For Sure

You might think of unisex names as a fairly recent trend, but the truth is these versatile monikers have been commonly used throughout history (well, some more commonly than others). That's why the team over at Names.org recently compiled a list of t…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

How To Have A Date Night With No Babysitter, Because It's Easier Than You Think

After having children, many couples feel that their love lives immediately go out the window, but it's so important to make your romantic life a priority so both you and your partner can be the best versions of yourselves you can be. As we all know, …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

9 Ways Baby No. 3 Made My Family Feel Complete

My husband and I decided to have another baby right after we got married and, well, we had no idea what we were getting into. I got pregnant right away, endured a high-risk pregnancy, and, before I knew it, my third baby had arrived. Together, we emb…
By Steph Montgomery

8 Stereotypes About New Dads That Are *Totally* True

Much like new mothers, new fathers have a lot on their plate. Parenting can be scary and complex, especially at first and regardless of your gender. People want to do right by their kids, after all. And since all new parents are a hot mess, dads are …
By Priscilla Blossom

8 Differences Between Being Pregnant In Your 20s Vs 30s, According To Science

Whether you're planning a pregnancy, or just thinking about your future family, it's typical to think about things like child-spacing, how many kids you want, and when to start trying to conceive. When making your pro/con list, you might also conside…
By Steph Montgomery

16 Moms Share Remedies For Their Most Intense Chocolate Cravings During Pregnancy

For better or worse, pregnancy is usually synonymous with odd cravings. Sure, there are the stereotypical combos like pickles and ice cream that plague gestating women the world over, but there are other mind-boggling combinations, too, including but…
By Candace Ganger

Putting Sunscreen On Your Kid Doesn't Have To Be A Fight — Here's How To Do It

I am almost translucent, so me and sunscreen are basically besties at this point. Even though my children are beautifully deep brown thanks to my husband's genetics, I still slather them like biscuits being buttered because I refuse to take risks wit…
By Cat Bowen

19 Moms Share The Way They Cured Their Pregnancy Comfort Food Cravings

I was obnoxiously sick during the first trimester with, "lucky" for me, both of my pregnancies. For the first three months I lived on saltines, lemonade, and fresh bread. Once I was able to eat, however, all I wanted was savory and sweet comfort food…
By Dina Leygerman

I Used To Judge Formula-Feeding Moms — Until I Became One

The other patrons in the hip Brooklyn restaurant probably couldn’t care less what I was feeding my baby, but I’ll always remember the shame I felt as I quickly mixed up his bottle of formula in front of them. I admitted to my childless friend that I …
By Katherine Martinelli

7 White Lies It’s Necessary To Tell To Keep Your Relationship Healthy

Telling lots of lies typically isn't associated with a healthy, strong, lasting relationship, and that's still certainly true, but not all lies are exactly the same. Though you've probably heard from someone at least once or twice that the lie they t…
By Lauren Schumacker

The Skinny Jeans That Saved Me Postpartum

Accepting my post-pregnancy body is hands-down one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It’s something that I still work on every single day. During my first pregnancy, I was 20 years old, so I managed to bounce back quickly. In fact, I dropp…
By Allison Cooper

7 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say They Feel Safe

In those first weeks of new motherhood, it can feel like you need an interpreter for your newborn. With their limited means of communication, figuring out what message your baby is trying to get across to you can be a challenge. With time, however, y…
By Kimmie Fink

Here's Why Dogs Are Obsessed With Babies' Poop, According To Science

Most family dogs seem to understand babies, and they're more than happy to make friends with the newest member of the pack. It's adorable... for the most part and until you go to change your little one's diaper. Suddenly, you're wondering why dogs ar…
By Lindsay E. Mack

6 Signs You're Meant To Have A Big Age Gap Between Kids

There's a five year age difference between my two children, to the day. Their age gap wasn't planned but, for a variety of reasons, works well for our family. And since I was so focused on having a second baby, I totally overlooked the signs that wou…
By Candace Ganger

My Dog Knew I Was Pregnant Before My Family Did

Growing up, I was 100 percent sure I'd be a mom one day. To a dog, that is. My baby plans came later. And once my husband and I were sure we wanted both a dog and a baby, we'd add to our joint dog-and-baby name list over Sunday brunch or on date nigh…
By Melissa Mills