Techniques to Meet People, Conversation Starters

I love to talk to strangers. Typically, I initiate conversations. But, not everyone feels comfortable doing that. In fact, my clients often ask me, "When I go out, be it on business, or just out by myself, how do I get people to initiate a conversation with me? On a business trip to California I ate at the wonderful Pied Piper Restaurant. Because it had been a long day of speaking I wasn't in an initiating mood. That evening at the restaurant, without even realizing it, I used three of the methods I teach to nonverbally invite strangers to initiate conversation and as a result met two interesting people.
In my advice to people who want to meet new people, network, form business alliances, or find someone to date I suggest to invite conversation by engaging in an interesting and or unusual positive activity that can illicit a positive comment or question.

The First Technique I used was to sit at the bar not at a table. Sitting at the bar you get side by side conversation, it is less threatening than face to face initial interactions so the seating makes it easier for men to initiate conversation with each other and with women. (See my blogs on side by side vs face to face)

The Second Technique I used was to carry an interesting book or other interesting reading material such as an electronic book. That night I was reading a hardback by humorous British author David Nicholls “A Question of Attraction.” The young man siting next to me asked me what I thought of the book and we were off on a fun conversation immediately. A funny coincidence is that it was easy for me to converse right away with him because he had a book on the bar in front of him on Franklin Roosevelt.

During our conversation I learned he does training internationally and owns a coffee house in San Francisco. He was leaving for China that week and I had just read a very insightful article on China in “The Week” so we were able to discuss some of the points discussed in the article: the coming storm as China continues to pollute its water and runs out of drinking water, It's problems, similar to ours as more elderly people are in need of support than people working and finally because of its large population, China's increased need to purchase goods from other countries, thus increasing trade throughout the world.

The Third Technique I used was to order interesting food. For the main course, I ordered something I saw someone eating as I came in that looked marvelously unique. A big bowl with spiral pasta pasta, mushrooms, parsley and a dollop of sour cream on top. It also had truffel oil and was wonderful.

As I ate I noticed a gentlemen sitting next to me eyeing the big bowl of pasta.

Then I had dessert, chocolate peppermint cake. It was served on a beautiful long clear glass rectangle plate with pink ice-cream and raspberry sauce. It was so lovely, I even took a picture of the plating. That did it. The combination of the unusual maincourse, dessert and my IPhone photo session motivated the gentleman to initiate a conversation by saying, "I noticed that the dessert looked beautiful, obviously you did too!" He then asked, "What was it?" and the conversation was started. I discovered that the gentleman was from Malaysia. He shared with me that he is part Indian part Chinese and was raised in a big house with floor to ceiling books in the library that sounded like the library at the Biltmore. At 14 he left Malaysia for London and was accepted immediately into college. He went on from there to law school at Cambridge and then worked in international banking. He rides his bike or the bus everyday to his current job as a house council for a Bank. That fact alone impressed me! He talked about the chain of restaurants in China he just opened with his partners. The Chinese love cheese and California wine. Who knew! We also all shared favorite books. I told them about the novel I was reading. The same novel by humorous British author David Nicholls “A Question of Attraction.” (He reminds me of the author of “About a Boy” Nick Hornsby.)

The Law of Association (with good experiences)–By pairing yourself with pleasurable stimuli another person will begin to associate you with pleasurable things.

The next day I had breakfast in the hotel court. Check out the link for Photos. It is an extremely impressive hotel. Make sure you click to the court photos. It has an enormous glass ceiling like a garden conservatory in a Victorian home. In fact, the restaurants and lobby were gorgeous!


Patti Wood, MA, Certified Speaking Professional - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at Also check out the body language quiz on her YouTube Channel at

Southern Voices- Authors Body Language

Patti Wood, MA, Certified Speaking Professional - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at Also check out the body language quiz on her YouTube Channel at