Our Blog Posts will help you reach your full potential in becoming a confident conversationalist. New topics each week.
In baseball hitters (and managers) talk about the importance of not giving away at bats. In other words, they don’t want to give in to a pitcher. They want to stay competitive. Even if the end result is a strikeout, a competitive at-bat is still a measure of success.
I don’t usually go the “inside baseball” route in this weekly note, but when I think about small talk I don’t want to give away my opportunity. I want to find a way to engage, connect and walk away with a measure of success.
My goal is that these sports conversation starters give you a measure of success in small talk this week as well.
Every week for the last 15 years I've posted a list of what I thought were Sports Conversation Starters...but I might have gotten it wrong. It might be better to categorize them as "Conversation Joiners."
You don't have to start the conversation to participate in one. My goal is to always give you one or two tidbits you can contribute to a conversation. So thank you Laura for sending me a note with the phrase #ConvoJoiners because that's exactly what these are.
Out of habit I'll probably still call them conversation starters, but however you think of them I hope this list makes the thought of small talk less intimidating and more interesting.
I forgot how awesome it is to be a fan.
That might sound weird, but cheering is not only discouraged it’s not allowed where I sit or stand for games. I am doing a job. Emotion isn’t part of that. But twice in the last three days, I was able to be a fan. I attended WNBA Seattle Storm games. I cheered, yelled and remembered how good it felt to do all those things.
Sometimes sports fans want to talk to their feelings sometimes they just want to yell. I encourage you to embrace all of the emotions and the conversations that sports bring your way this week. Here are a few conversation starters to get things going.
Have you ever found yourself trapped in a conversation you didn’t care about? Me too!
Just last week I was part of a conversation that didn’t interest me because it was the only conversation topic available. Don’t make the same mistake I did, be prepared to bring something to the conversation. These sports topics could work this week.
This weekly list of sports conversation starters isn’t just to spark sports small talk, it’s to provide a springboard to talk about whatever you’d like.
Here’s how it works:
Step 1: Pick one of the topics listed, let’s say Brooks Koepka winning the PGA Championship.
Step 2: Include a second possible conversation topic along with your sports note.
It might sound like this:
“I saw Brooks Koepka won the PGA Championship. I didn’t spend a lot of time watching because we spent most of the weekend looking at houses. Did you watch much of it?”
Sports started the conversation and gave you a way to casually introduce something else you were interested in talking about.
It’s one more way to use sports to your advantage in conversations. Here are topics you can use this week.
It’s really hard to concentrate when the sun is out in Seattle.
I know it’s a sentiment shared by most of us here after extended stretches of clouds and cooler (or just plain cold) spring weather. I find myself either staring out the window at the sun or rushing through my work so I can go out and enjoy the sun.
It’s a seasonal thing here in Seattle but it might describe every Monday morning for you and that’s where these sports conversation starters come in.
They’re written with you in mind as a busy professional who on occasion has a short attention span. There are no deep dives, just a snapshot of what’s happening around sports.
And here’s the thing… you don’t even have to read them for these conversation starters to be effective. True story. Just knowing which topics other fans will be talking about this week can help in conversations.
With that in mind here are a few headlines making news this week.
Anything can happen on live TV. Usually it doesn’t. Things go (relatively) smoothly most of the time. When it doesn’t I think back to how my mentor viewed tough shows: “That’s the great thing about doing four shows a night. I always have a chance to end on a high note.”
It’s a valuable lesson to learn in broadcasting but it applies to conversations too. Not every interaction is going to go as planned. Anything can happen. Most of the time it doesn’t, but if you don’t like the way one conversation goes you can always turn the page, have the next convo and end on a high note.
There are a number of different ways to get back on track, if you need an extra conversation starter or two these can help.
For all the game film, combine stats and draft profiles, nothing gives you a sense for a player like a conversation.
I spent the weekend covering the NFL Draft for the Seahawks. I talked to each of the 10 players selected and each of those interviews and conversations provided a more dynamic picture than any of the highlights I saw or articles I read. The interactions added context and personality to their accomplishments.
There’s more to athletes than their productivity. The same is true for you. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking your work will speak for itself. It does not. The NFL Draft is proof of that.
Be willing to engage in a conversation, about anything, to give your colleagues a more dynamic picture of you. These sports conversation starters can help this week.
There’s more than one way to participate in a conversation. Being an active listener is just as important as anything else in an interaction. It’s also one of the easiest ways to build your confidence - both as a conversationalist and in relationship building.
I see it happen all the time in big league clubhouses. The newcomers aren’t usually the ones driving the conversations. They’re hanging back, listening and warming up the space.
Here’s what that means for you – just show up.
Be willing to interact. Small talk isn’t about having all the answers. Small talk is about making connections and building rapport. These sports conversation starters can help – even if you didn’t spend the weekend watching sports.
You already know I think of sports conversations as a way to connect. I also think of them as a way to practice skills I know I need in other areas of my life.
If you're looking for ways to shine in big moments you should be finding ways to practice in small ones.
Accepting change or leaning into change is something I could always do better. And you know what? I've done that in the last couple weeks and if you're a baseball fan so have you! Almost 3 weeks into the season you've not only heard about the new rules across the major leagues you're probably already used to them. That's change management. That's accepting and leaning into change. Gold star for you!
If you're not quite there, this reminder from the Spring Training for Your Career series could help.
As for this week's conversation starters, there's no need to change a good thing. Here's the list you can use to get the ball rolling in small talk.