Beginner English Conversation Topics for Your Next Work Party

When you find yourself at a work party, embassy reception or happy hour, navigating English conversation topics can be hard especially for beginners who suddenly find themselves in a work environment with a lot of English native speakers, but don't worry, here at Lingua Link DC, we know how to help you become a better communicator to establish business relationships and network more effectively.

This guide to conversation topics for work functions should help speak more comfortably during casual converstions. Study the converstion topics and exercises below to build stronger work relationships with English native speakers and leave a lasting and positive impression.

For extra practice, talk to yourself about the topics below at home and practice with your friends. Write a list of topics on a small sheet of paper that you keep in your purse and can easily pull out while in the bathroom at an event where you have to engage in small talk conversation, or simply send yourself a text message with example topics.

Conversation Starters for Work Events

What do you do? - This one is very common here in Washington, D.C., and in other cities across the United States. If you just arrived in D.C., you will certainly encounter a lot of people who will ask you right away: “What do you do?” The answer here obviously varies depending on what you actually do for a living.

Example: What do you do? Common Response: I am a lawyer working on environmental issues for the U.S. Senate.

Traffic - Traffic is almost always bad here in the nation’s capital and a popular topic for both people living in the suburbs and the city. We are even notorious for being some of the worst drivers in the United States, an opinion that a lot of people here certainly do not share. In D.C., drivers from the suburbs are usually seen as bad drivers. Talking about traffic is in fact so common here that even at think tanks speakers often start off their presentations with a joke about traffic.

If you happen to not be in Washington, talking about traffic is still a great conversation starter since there are many other cities in the world with a traffic problem.

Example: Can you believe it? I was stuck on I-95 for two hours on my way to work today? Common Response: The traffic was pretty bad today, I heard there was an accident on I-95 so maybe that’s the cause.

Food - is always a great conversation starter no matter where you are. Everyone loves food. Start off your conversation by asking about a restaurant you read about in the local newspaper, or ask about the latest food craze ( = food trend).

Just google latest food trend or food craze before you go to an event, and you will have something to talk about that will certainly engage your conversation partner and might even make them laugh.

For example, talking about the mufgel (= a mix between a bagel and a muffin; and a VERY funny sounding word in English) will break the ice (= to get a conversation started) in no time.

The mufgel, is, indeed, according to Conde Nast Traveler, one of the food trends of 2016 in NYC.

Example 1: Have you heard about the mufgel, a mix between a bagel and a muffin. People love it in NYC. Can you believe it? It sounds weird? Or what do you think?

Example 2: I read about this amazing new Laotian place on 14th Street. Have you been there by any chance? I am definitely planning on going soon. Any other restaurants you can recommend?

Weather - No matter whether if it is hot or cold, people talk and complain about the weather.

Example: I can’t believe how how it is today. Is it always this hot around this time of the year here?

Sports - Americans love talking about sports especially baseball and American football. Read up on the latest scores of your city’s favorite team, and you will be ready for any happy hour.

In Europe, soccer is also a great conversation starter. Even if you don’t know anything about sports, you can always read up on it on Wikipedia and pretend to know what you are talking about. Just ask lots of questions.

Example: Did you see the latest game by ….?

Extra Tip: If you want to dive a little deeper into your conversations, do your research about the people you will meet at the work event. Read up on articles they have published or talks they have given and ask informed questions.

By learning how to converse in English, you will improve your work performance and be far less stressed about going to work events. Practice at home and with friends and do your research before you go to the event, and you will be just fine!

Email Lingua Link DC if you have any more question, we are always ready to help!

Marike Korn