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Sports is always my go-to conversation starter. Even if I don’t know if I’m talking to a sports fan. I know that uncertainty can make some fans uncomfortable, but sports is truly one of the most efficient ways to spark small talk because the answer doesn’t matter nearly as much as the clarity it provides.
If I lead with “Did you see the game last night?” I know I’m going to get one of two answers, and quite honestly I don’t care which one it is. If the answer is “Yes” I know I can follow up with another sports question or a question about the game. If the answer is “No” I can ask something like, “What did you have going on last night?” And now I’m into a conversation without playing 20 questions or asking a handful of questions while trying to find something meaningful. Using sports as a starting point made it easier to make a connection and have a productive exchange.
I’m a firm believer in preparing for little conversations like small talk because a.) I want my interactions to be productive b.) I don’t want them to be awkward, especially if I’m trying to build a relationship.
Preparation can range from doing a little research on people I’ll encounter, identifying success statements I can use in response to “How are you?” and having a few general questions in my back pocket to start a sports conversation. Here are some examples:
They’re canned questions that can get a timely response. I think of these as really generic questions and while I typically advocate for asking specific questions that get you closer to your conversation goal, these questions work just fine at starting a conversation.
BUT… your goal probably isn’t just to...
A sporting event is just that – an event. There’s always more going on than the game itself and that introduces additional conversation topics outside of the stats, scores and outcome.
Sports conversations don’t have to focus on the game itself. You can choose to talk about the experience of watching a game.
The Super Bowl is a great example. You could talk about the teams and players or you could talk about the food, commercials, halftime entertainment, location, parties you’ll attend and who you’ll be watching it with.
There are few events as big as the Super Bowl during the year, but these potential conversation topics exist in every game. You could choose to talk about what you ate a game, or restaurants near the stadium you like to visit. Talking about the vibe in the building or the friends who went to the game with you is an option too. If you watched a game on TV, the location of the game could lead to conversations about travel or personal...
If starting a conversation is intimidating or challenging for you, use this Talk Sporty 101 tactic to bring the conversation to you - wear your team's logo.
When you wear the logo of your favorite team you make it easy for other people to say something first. This strategy is particularly effective for introverts and if you're in large group settings, like parties and networking events, that might be overwhelming.
Here are a few things to remember when using this strategy:
This is a great approach if you don't want to be the first person to say something. In addition, it will help you identify other sports fans who would be open to sports small talk.
The pressure new sports fans put on themselves is immense. From thinking they need an answer to every question or believing they should know more facts or data, new and novice sports fans expect more of themselves than most fans do.
It comes down to confidence.
Here’s what I mean, if you’re a long-time Seahawks fan who’s been busy at work the last couple days and haven’t had time to read about the latest roster move or read comments from Pete Carroll you don’t stop yourself from joining a football conversation and you don’t think you’re less of a fan. You think, and know, you’re a busy fan with more than your hobby vying for your attention.
New and novice fans, often lack the confidence to enter the conversation with that recognition and mindset. They more harshly judge their lack of knowledge or time spent on sports than anyone. And they don’t realize that all they need to do is define their area of expertise.
Sports headlines are great for building your sports knowledge base and starting conversation, but what happens when you get asked to dive deeper or get asked to weigh in on a topic, game or player you’re not familiar with? Then what do you do?
I get this question all the time. I know it causes a lot of anxiety, but there is a pretty simple way to solve this problem.
First, don’t panic. Resist the urge to just walk away from the conversation.
Second, recognize it’s not your job to have answers to every sports question. (Sports is my job, but it’s your hobby.)
Third, redirect a conversation that starts with “Did you see…” using the words, “No, but…”
“Did you see the game last night?” “No, but what happened?”
“Did you see what the Seahawks are doing?” “No, but do you have any insight?”
You don’t have to have the answers, you just need a way to keep the...
There are a lot of things you could talk about when you become a sports fan, and that’s part of the problem - there are too many things to talk about.
Here’s the best way to approach it: start small and start with the headlines.
Instead of watching all the football you can handle on a weekend and hoping to remember one or two things, pick one team to follow. You can narrow your focus even more and choose a favorite player on the team. When you see out information about your favorite player you’ll ended up learning about the team, league, opponents and trends along the way.
I know that still sounds like a lot and here’s where the headlines come in. Sports headlines are your secret weapon to building your sports knowledge base in a way that you can actually remember what you read and jump into sports conversations right way.
Now, when I say headlines, I literally mean just the headlines. I prefer the ones in an actual printed newspaper, but you can glance at...