Our Blog Posts will help you reach your full potential in becoming a confident conversationalist. New topics each week.
For a second straight week I have a confession to make - I never did get around to filling out my NCAA Tournament bracket. It's a little embarrassing since I work in sports, but I'm also a real person with a lot on my plate.
I will still talk about hoops and the NCAA Tournament because it's what sports fans are talking about. I might not go into many details and I definitely spend more time asking questions and listening, but I don't opt out of the conversation altogether. There are ways to alter your sports conversations based on your sports knowledge base.
Here are a few talking points to boost your confidence when talking sports this week.
Much like your own personal accomplishments, sports accomplishments can vary. For example, Joey Chestnut broke his own world record Sunday at the Nathan’s Famous hot dog eating contest by eating 76 hot dogs (and buns) in 10 minutes. Just typing that sentence makes me feel queasy, but I would probably jump at the chance to join a pie eating contest.
As silly as it is, that hot dog eating contest makes for great small talk this week along with these more serious sports headlines.
Among the many headlines I read in the last week this one stands out:
Here’s the basic premise – no chitchat leads to feeling less connected to colleagues, less productivity and reduced social skills.
Small talk is, in fact, critical to business.
It’s one of the reasons I’ve committed to providing weekly sports conversation starters every week for the last 11 years.
Here’s a list of topics you can use this week.
Usually sports conversations are my outlet. A chance to talk about something other than news. An opportunity to be entertained, and a chance to build relationships with sports fans.
In fact, that’s how I’ve encouraged people to use sports small talk for more than a decade.
As a sports broadcaster those conversations are also part of my job, and increasingly more stressful because it forces me to consider what happens if sports don’t return. For me sports conversations are less of an outlet and more like a huge reason for concern and worry.
I’ve heard a lot of people say there are bigger things to deal with than sports, and there is truth to that, but there’s also the other side of the coin – without sports a lot of jobs are lost.
Here’s why I’m saying this: there’s more than one point of view to consider. In every conversation. Be careful about being shortsighted in the way you approach small talk.
Just a few...
I offered that piece of advice to college students starting their careers in sports broadcasting. I can’t only talk to an athlete, coach or executive is when I need something and expect them to open up, share their perspective or give me any answer at all. If I don’t put relationships first they will be more likely to turn and walk the other way when they see me coming instead of giving me a warm greeting and insightful answers.
The need for tough conversations and thoughtful discourse won’t go away. Those conversations can get easier if you build relationships along the way. You don’t have to start with the tough conversation. You can start with small talk.
And those small talk conversations can start with sports, like these topics making news this week.
Soccer returned in Germany. NASCAR returned in the United States. A few PGA players returned to the course. Sports leagues continue to discuss plans that would allow them to resume play.
It won’t be what fans are used to experiencing, but it will be live sporting events. It could also lead to emotional conversations.
Yes, I know there’s an option to go down that path. And you and I both know that if you do that you won’t be furthering a relationship, you could be ending one. You don’t have to like the people you work with, but you do need to find a way to work well with them. It’s your job. Don’t make it any harder by picking fights.
With that in mind, here are a few sports topics you can use in small talk this week.
Were you one of the record-number of people who tuned into the virtual NFL Draft?
Were you also among the group of viewers who enjoyed seeing coaches, GMs, players and even NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in their own homes?
It’s one of the biggest talking points following a draft that had more suspense around whether or not the technology would work (it did) than the top two quarterbacks in the draft class.
The NFL Draft provided sports-starved fans an outlet and insight they’d never seen. It’s a reminder that sports isn’t just about sports outcomes and work isn’t just about your work product.
Your house might not look like Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury. Your dog might not get as much attention as Bill Belichick’s but that doesn’t mean co-workers and colleagues don’t want to connect with you on a personal level.
Pull back the curtain a little bit in your small talk. Be willing to chit chat before your calls this week....
We’re going into week four of zero live sports on TV and my husband has decided the new go-to background TV programing is Food Network. Apparently me cooking every day is not entertaining enough. He has never once watched the food prep for his own dinner from start to finish. I digress.
We’re not the only ones changing our viewing habits. Everyone is looking for new things to watch and different things to talk about. Quite a few athletes and sports fans are entertaining themselves with virtual sports and still finding new sports headlines like these to talk about during the week.
Like the kind that happen when you bump into a colleague in the hallway, or the chit chat that takes place in an elevator.
Stay at home and work from home orders have changed the way we operate and the way we think about daily activities and interactions.
In many cases physical distancing has actually increased social connections because we’re all becoming more intentional about reaching out for those conversations and interactions.
Continue reaching out. Find things to talk about. Use sports as a connection point with fans and use these sports #ConvoStarters this week.
I never thought I'd write a weekly blog about sports conversation starters without a single sports event on the calendar, or while social distancing is forcing most people to work from home.
Working remotely, suspending sports seasons, canceling the NCAA Tournament and delaying the start of the baseball season became necessary to combat the Coronavirus pandemic.
So why am I still talking about sports? Because sports fandom doesn't stop just because sports seasons on are hold.
There are still ways to include sports in your weekly conversations. You can read five ways to do that in the full blog.
In addition, small talk doesn't just take place in person. It will still take place before your video conference meetings, when you email colleagues throughout the day and when you text friends to see how they're passing the time at home.
With that in mind, and knowing there's new information seemingly every hour, here are a few sports conversation starters for you to...