Our Blog Posts will help you reach your full potential in becoming a confident conversationalist. New topics each week.
Do it because you can, not because you want to.
I heard a fitness instructor say that this week and it’s exactly how I feel when I’m coaching people on how to talk sports and engage in small talk.
The conversation you think doesn’t matter actually opens the door for bigger conversations of greater substance. I can’t think of any athlete I’ve interviewed (and I’ve talked to hundreds of them) that I haven’t made small talk with at some point before starting the interview – even if it was just 15 seconds of introducing myself before going on live TV.
You might not want to take time out of your day for small talk, but do it because you can and because it makes a difference in the long run.
Use this list of sports topics to start small talk conversations this week. If this list seems like a lot, then focus on the only question you need to be able to answer: “Who’s your team?”
It’s a frequently asked question among sports fans and it’s a good starting point for every new or novice sports fan. There is no right or wrong answer to the question, but you do need an answer if only for your own sanity as you build your sports knowledge base.
Identifying one team - your team - makes it easier to become a fan and follow relevant headlines. For example, keeping track of all 32 NFL teams is time consuming and confusing if you’re just getting started as compared to paying attention to just one team.
Your choice of teams is entirely up to you, but you might want to consider your objective before you commit.
Your team your choice,...
If you want people to clearly communicate with you, start practicing it yourself. Sound intimidating? Not if you start with sports.
Here’s an example of being direct: Did you watch the Seahawks pre-season game Saturday?
It’s clear and direct. You know exactly what you’re being asked and what your response will be.
Direct and clear does not mean rude. It might mean you need to practice in low stress situations like small talk. This list of sports conversation starters can help with those interactions.
You can be a sports fan for lots of different reasons. It doesn’t have to be because you played sports in high school or because you’ve always been a fan or because your entire family cheers for the Chicago Bears.
You could be a sports fan because it’s a way to connect with will colleagues, it’s a topic your kids will talk about, because you love tailgating or because you think the athletes look good in their uniforms.
There are three things to remember:
Preseason football doesn’t generally excite fans. The games mean we’re getting close to the start of the regular season but the outcomes of preseason games don’t mean much.
Here’s what should excite non-football fans – it’s a great time to start following football. If you read a couple headlines a week (or go one step further and read one headline a day) you’ll be able to follow more conversations and maybe even jump into a football conversation when the regular season starts. As with just about anything, it’s easier to start at the beginning rather than trying to jump in midstream.
Use this time to your advantage and use these sports conversation starters to help spark small talk of all kinds this week.
If you equate sports small talk to sports metaphors you’re missing the point and a valuable opportunity to connect with colleagues. Sports metaphors and cliches are mostly overused, often misused and do very little to further a conversation or make a point.
Intentional sports small talk is a different story. These conversation starters give you the chance to learn more about your colleagues and create follow-up opportunities. (Think: checking in with a baseball-loving colleague Friday to get their thoughts on the Field of Dreams game that happens on Thursday.)
Any of these topics can spark conversations this week.
I’m glad Simone Biles captured the attention of the world and shined a light on the importance of mental health. She helped spark conversation around the immense pressure athletes are under to perform and the stress that goes along with being the best in the world.
I’m encouraged fans were forced to look beyond Biles’ impressive personal accomplishments and see her as a human being.
I only wish every fan could accompany me into a locker room so you never forget athletes are people and we’re all human.
It’s a message I heard a decade before I set foot in a professional locker room when I wrote a letter to a local sportscaster I adored in Houston. I told her how much I loved sports and how I thought it was so cool she got to talk to athletes. I was surprised when Lisa Malosky took the time to write back. She encouraged me to pursue a career in sports before I even knew it was possible. She agreed the job was cool but she included these words I’m...
If there’s one universal takeaway from the Olympics over the last week – it’s that sports isn’t just about the outcomes. Sports can be used to tackle much bigger conversations, like mental health. Simone Biles is a tremendous athlete, the best in the world at what she does. And she is human just like you and just like me.
Sports at its core is about coming together as human beings and being part of a community, whether you are a community of athletes or a community of fans. You can use sports to be rude, divisive, and controversial or you can use sports to bring people together.
I hope you will choose the latter and use these sports conversation starters to build relationships in small talk this week.
It’s hard not to think about what’s next. A sentiment shared by young prospects throughout baseball and sports in general. But what those athletes inevitably learn, either on their own or when the game humbles them, is that it’s important to be where your feet are and focus on what you can control.
There’s a difference between preparing for the future and trying to live in it. High-performance psychologist Michael Gervais calls being present a form of self-mastery and it’s a leadership skill you can practice and learn.
Friendly reminder – people want to be heard. They want to know their opinion counts and that what they say matters. It’s one of the biggest reasons anyone posts on social media. You might not agree with what anyone is saying on social media, but you can’t deny the fact that people want to be heard.
Give at least two people that opportunity this week. Start a conversation with the intent of truly hearing what the person has to say.
I probably don’t need to tell you to choose your conversation starter wisely. Small talk should be used to build relationships, not destroy them. The thing someone is ranting about on social media probably isn’t a good place to start. A neutral sports topic is a much better option. Here are a few headlines you can use this week.