Small talk

 In psychology, technique

I used to think that “small talk” was just a way in which inter-actors kept themselves safe and avoided getting to the real meat of a scene. Then, by chance, I started training inter-actors to create one-on-one scenes that could last up to 60 minutes. It turns out that small talk can be very useful. Small talk provides three significant benefits.

  1. Because it is something they already know how to do, small talk builds spects’ confidence in their ability to play during the early stages of a story.
  2. Spects generate plot and character details with ease because, in their minds, the story hasn’t started yet; it’s just “small talk.” These details can become valuable elements on which to build and to reincorporate later in the story.
  3. Paying close attention to the small talk, an inter-actor can begin to get a read on the personality and values of the spect, which is very useful information when building rapport or creating push backs.

Though most of us know how to do small talk, there we tend to have a limited menu of topics with which we are familiar. Here are is a list categories to expand your small talk repertoire.

small talk: qualitative observations, opinions, and reports

  • introduction or greeting
  • traffic (getting here)
  • weather
  • environment (situation, setting, people, food)
  • status (appearance, achievements)
  • family (friends, pets)
  • day (how it was…)
  • work/school
  • hobbies (and church)
  • travel (recent, soon)
  • possessions (big, new, tech)
  • leisure (sports, TV, movies, music, books, art)
  • news (leading stories)
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