How to small talk in an online meeting

Small talk can be tricky to get the hang off, especially when you're in an online meeting. Whereby gives some tips on how to get small talk started in online meetings.

Many of us have probably experienced the awkward silence that comes creeping while we’re waiting for an online meeting to start. Making small talk when we’re not physically in the same room can be quite challenging.

So, when you’re sitting in your next video meeting, racking your brain for another opening line than the standard ‘how are you doing?’ you can think back to this blog.

There are endless things to talk about. However, it often comes down to who you have a meeting with. Keep in mind that when you speak with clients, your choice of small talk will be different from what you’ll talk about in the weekly meetings with your teammates.

Research who you are talking to

This is especially a good idea if you have an online meeting with, for instance, a client for the first time. Find out where they live and check the local news – happenings are always good conversation starters. In particular, if they are positive.

It can also be smart to check their social media pages and learn more about their hobbies and interests. Talking about topics your guests care about and find interesting is a good way to create a comfortable atmosphere.

However, this doesn’t mean that you should start a thorough background check on every person you talk to. Nor do you need to research every participant if you’re holding a meeting for 10 people. Often, it’s enough to get the ball rolling, and others will join the conversation.

5 Tips for Small Talk

- Research social media profiles

- Put emojis next to your names

- Keep an eye out for interesting backgrounds

- Ask about the COVID-19 situation

- Make weather-talk interesting

Add an emoji next to your name

This is a Whereby tried and tested way of getting small talk started, especially for internal meetings. Ask everyone at the meeting to add an emoji for the day next to their name so the whole room can see it. Each person can then share why they have chosen that emoji.

Use your background for small talk

In your online meeting room changing your background can be a great way to start small talk. It can be the aerospace background you chose, the picture hanging on the wall, or even the cat that walks across the keyboard.

We can’t get around COVID-19

Even though we’re all tired of it, COVID-19 is something we will continue to talk about. Not only are chances high that COVID-19 is the reason why many are using online meetings, but it is also something we all have in common.

Having an understanding of the situation that your guests are in can also be helpful for your future business collaboration.

Shake up the small talk clichés

It might be a cliché, but talking about the weather can actually be interesting. It doesn’t have to be the normal ‘how is the weather at your place?’. Use the weather to ask about their plans. If it’s rainy are they going to stay at home and watch a movie?

You can also ask them about their favorite type of climate and why they like it. This can start a fun and interesting discussion about their personality.

As part of your earlier research, you can check the weather forecast. Being able to ask, ‘Are you keeping warm over there? I heard it’s going to hit 40°C this week’ usually puts people at ease.

Even though we all want to avoid the awkward silence where no one knows what to say, we should also remember that silence can be good. People might be considering what to answer or how to say something. In case they’re not, you now have a list of topics that can help you kickstart the small talk in your next online meeting.

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