Yesterday I was talking to a man about what motivates people to buy from a business. As a businessman myself, I contributed a bit to the conversation and picked up some new information. After a couple minutes of the conversation, it happened… The dreaded inability to remember names, and think of what to say next. The conversation dwindled with my incessant pausing to try to think of the next part of the sentence I was trying to get out of my head.

Now, like you, I’m a very confident person, though also like you, I do make mistakes which jeopardize my appearance on occasion and make me look weak. It’s far from pleasant, so I went in search of ways to fix it so that situation never happens again. To pull it off, you’ll use a three step process.

3-Step Conversation Process

  • Step 1: Stop the current topic gracefully. – If you’re in the middle of a sentence that’s going awry, pause for a moment, smile, and go to step 2.
  • Step 2: Boldly state that you’re unable to focus on that topic. – “You know, for some reason I’m unable to focus on that topic.” That shows that you aren’t changing the subject because of disinterest. It also makes you appear instantly more confident, as you were strong enough to acknowledge that there was a problem on your end.
  • Step 3: Start a new topic. – Start a conversation with a topic on which you know how to focus. Perhaps later you can come back to the original topic.

Conversation Topics

Step 3 requires you to find a new topic to transition your conversation. In the heat of the moment, you might find it quite difficult to think of anything to talk about! Most people can only remember 3 things with ease, and the rest just fades into the background. Remember that you only need just one solid new topic. So, pick 3 items from the list below – one for social conversations, one for business conversations, and one for general purpose. Even if the topic you choose is boring, it’s just there to get the conversation rolling in the right direction. So, let the conversation carry on.

Let’s start with FORD: Family, Occupation, Recreation, Dreams. FORD is a popular method to strike up a conversation with someone, and it can also be used to transition your conversation. Simply, use one of the topics below to discuss the person’s family, occupation, recreation, or what they dream about doing in their life.

  • What do you notice about him or her that stands out? – “That’s a nice shirt [necklace/shoes/elephant you’re holding] where did you get it?”
  • What stands out about the surroundings you’re both in? – “Did you ever notice the odd sheek around here? There’s a fish hanging from a ceiling, and a plane in the other room.”
  • If you’re at a wedding, ask if they’ve tried the cake. At a friend’s party, ask the person how he or she knows the host. – “Have you tried the cake? It’s made with warm chocolate that melts in your mouth as you eat it. Absolutely amazing!”
  • What’s your biggest accomplishment?
  • Do you have any pets?
  • Where do you vacation?
  • Do you like [mountain climbing/equestrianism/getting laid]? The last one is just guy talk and offers some humor to spruce up the conversation.
  • Have you ever been caving?
  • What’s the biggest challenge you’re facing in your life/business? (Very personal – use your best judgement)
  • Who do you work for? – Go Austin Powers on their ass!
  • How did you lose your thumb/big toe/left arm/head/other appendage?
  • Do happy gophers stalk your house nightly?
  • Do you have any kids?
  • Have you ever drank from a beer bong?
  • How long have you lived at your current place? Come to think of it, where do you live? [City, not address]
  • Are you interested in artificial lifeforms?
  • You have an interesting last name. What does it mean?
  • What nationality are you?
  • What have you always wanted to do in life, and did you accomplish that?
  • What does your dream life look like?
  • Are you happy with your life?
  • Do you have too much time on your hands? [Sing it]
  • What languages do you know? [computer and human languages]
  • Why do you do what you do? Do you like your job?
  • Why did you choose to work for your employer?
  • What drives you nuts?
  • Have you ever visited a castle?
  • Are you a gamer?
  • Are you a football/baseball/oil wrestling/bed racing/extreme ironing fan? – Who says you can’t be cosmopolitan?
  • Have you ever invented anything?
  • Are you working your dream job from when you were a kid?
  • If you had to be a fictional character from a movie or video game, who would it be and why?

For homework, come up with 68 more questions, and send them my way along with a link to your website if you’d like. I’ll add your credit to the post if I accept your additions. Writing questions helps you to think up new ones on the fly when you’re stuck in a fit of silence.


While I made up most of the topics, a few ideas came from other websites. If you’d like to read more about conversation topics, check out these articles.

  1. 5 Action Steps When You Don’t Know What to Say
  2. Top 10 Unusual Sports in The World
  3. 33 Killer Starter Topics

Photo Credit: Pixabay