• Maud Vanhoutte

Lunch and Learn training session: The Fine Art of Small Talk

Organised for: The Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust Head Office Team

First Lunch and Learn session with The Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust Head Office Team

On Tuesday, New Reflections had the great pleasure to run a Lunch & Learn workshop for the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust. They welcomed us to their premises at Lunch time and they invited their head office talents to come along with us.

It was an amazing workshop with a very friendly atmosphere and a great level of engagement. The team really enjoyed this interactive and participative workshop.

For the first session, the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust selected ‘The Art of Small Talk’.

The program for this practical workshop was:

  • How to approach others: Icebreakers and conversation starters

  • Easy topic points to develop

  • How to keep building a conversation

  • How to make the best exit

  • + Practice!

“Small talk is where it all begins”…

We use small talk all day long with almost everyone from co-workers to friends, family and even strangers.

Small talk is the informal conversation that can precede a deeper and more important one.

Small talk is also a way to connect with new people as well as reinforcing existing relationships. When we meet someone for the first time, it is important to master the art of small talk in order to send a positive and good first impression.

Within the professional environment, it is beneficial for success and in the personal environment it can lead to long-lasting personal relationships.

Icebreaker and conversation starter

One of the main small talk challenges is to approach someone and engage this person into a conversation. What should you say? How to ‘break the ice’?

The Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust learned easy icebreakers and conversation starters to use in any situation.

When intending to start a conversation, it is essential to be approachable and be able to keep the other person comfortable.

Maud, New Reflections’ Learning & Development Expert, gave the team easy-to-use tools to face the different kind of situations.

Topics to develop

The art of small talk does not stop now; once we manage to break the ice, what can we talk about?

Weather, sport, travel, family…

Choose the topics you enjoy talking about and show interest in your interlocutor’s answers.

This is how you will manage to keep building the conversation.

Keep building the conversation

Once you manage to engage in a conversation, your goal is to keep building the discussion. If you want to avoid awkward silences, you have to be ready for this step.

To keep building the conversation, you need to listen, observe, ask questions and remember the answers. Small talk is not about asking one question after another and moving from one topic to another. If you anticipate your next question or your response instead of strictly listening and trying to connect with your interlocutor, you will always find small talk challenging.

Maud shared excellent tools and models to the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust talents.

One of the shared tools that you can easily use in small talk is the A.R.E. method.

The A.R.E. method explains how to balance your conversation.

First you need an Anchor, find common grounds with the person you are talking to.

Then Reveal, reveal information about yourself, share a bit.

Finally, Encourage, encourage the person to share; follow up with questions!

You can decide to reveal first and then encourage the other person or you might find it easier to initiate the talk with a question prior to revealing more about yourself. Both ways will work well.

Make an exit

Making an exit can be as challenging as it is to start or keep building a conversation. In some occasions, coming to a conclusion and finding a way to make a polite exit is the trickiest part of the discussion.

To assist the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust talents’ with this step, Maud shared a great 3 steps method.

3 steps to make an exit:

1. Rephrase something you liked – Offer a conclusion.

“It is always a pleasure to meet someone as interest in… as I am”, “That was great talking about … and …, I really enjoyed our chat”, …

2. Announce your departure.

“I will have to go now”, “I have seen someone I want to talk to”, “I will get a new drink”…

3. Say goodbye

“Bye for now”, “Goodbye”, “See ya mate”…

Do not justify yourself too much and only refer to the future if you mean it and want it. You should not say “Let’s catch up again” if you don’t plan on seeing this person again.

During the workshop, the participants were very receptive and took part in the different practical exercises with a lot of enthusiasm.

They enjoyed the team-building opportunity and learned a lot about the fine art of small talk.

They will remember the importance of listening to names as well as how to politely join a group that has already been formed. They will also keep in mind conversation starters as well as how to introduce themselves. Finally, they will focus on finding common grounds and thinking about what they want to communicate.

The Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust feedback for this training were very positive. Participants “Enjoyed it” and found it “Great! Not too long or short. Just enough practical time to benefit from”. They find Maud “very informative”, “friendly” and “easy to relate to”.

We look forward to work with them again in July!

As the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust did, invite New Reflections monthly or every 2 months for Lunch and Learn or Latte and Learn sessions!

Contact us:

+61 (0)2 9569 6906



Related courses

Click to discover our Lunch & Learn Solutions

Click to discover our keynote speaker Solutions

Click to discover the list of topics

Related articles

Have you considered the importance of employee engagement?

Are your employees happy? Happiness at work is serious business!

Are you ready to book your Latte & Learn or Lunch & Learn session(s)?

#SmallTalk #LunchandLearn