NSA 15 Year Member National Speaker Association

Small Talk with Teenage Boys
By Debra Fine

Don’t talk about how “fat” you are or how you hate your hair. This is not only demeaning, but also probably untrue. Boys are bored to tears with girls who talk about how they look!

Avoid becoming an FBI agent! Stop hitting him with question after question. Use open-ended questions. Open-ended questions usually provide one-sentence answers (even with teenage boys)! Rather than the one word answers close-ended questions almost require. Open ended questions include: “Describe the assignment for me….”, “How did you come up with that idea?”, “Why?” , “Tell me about…”, “What was that like for you?”, “How do you know each other?”

Improve your conversations with the following:

Instead of: “How was History?” ask: “What went on in History today?”

Instead of: “How was your weekend?” ask: “What did you have going on this weekend…”

Instead of: “How was the game?” or “Who won?” ask: Tell me about your game?”

Instead of: “Did you like that movie?” ask: “What do you think about that movie? Why?”

Instead of: “Do you like that teacher?” ask: What is your opinion about that teacher? Why?”

Bring up topics you both can discuss and are interested in:

“What movie did you last see?” “What did you think of it?”

“Tell me about your favorite music?” “Why?”

“What classes do you enjoy the most?” “Why?”

“What is the greatest challenge about playing football, being involved with Key Club, having 3 brothers and sisters?”

“Why do you think some teachers are boring and some are not? What makes an interesting teacher?”

“What is the most fun vacation you ever took?”

“What is your dream vacation?”

Play the conversational game! Boys hate it when they ask a girl a question and get either a one-word response or an ambiguous response. For instance, when he asks you what movie you’d like to see or where you would like to get something to eat do not respond with: “I don’t care” or “It doesn’t matter”. Boys do not want to be burdened with figuring everything out. When asked a question about a movie or class, give a response of at least one full sentence. For instance: “I don’t like history because history does not interest me, I enjoy math and science so much more” Now you have given the boy something to talk to you about! Your interest in math and science! “How was your weekend?” you are asked. Instead of answering: “Fine” respond with: “It was fun. I had a lacrosse game on Saturday and worked on an English essay the rest of the weekend”. He now can talk to you about either lacrosse or your essay assignment.

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Mastering The Art of Small Talk



Debra Fine special on CBS Channel 4 News. Debra Fine is a professional speaker, best selling author, conversation expert, communication guru, and a nationally recognized spokesperson.


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The Fine Art of Small Talk: How to Start a Conversation, Keep It Going, Build Networking Skills – And Leave a Positive Impression! (Unabridged) Nationally recognized communication expert, keynote speaker and trainer, and best-selling author Debra Fine reveals the techniques and strategies anyone can use to make small talk - in any situation. Do you spend an abnormal amount of time hiding out in the bathroom or hanging out at the buffet table at social gatherings?


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Our group of 500 participants thought you were wonderful. They loved the topic and your wonderfully energetic and amusing delivery. Many people told me we should have given you twice as much time. In the eight years that we have sponsored this conference you have proved to be our most popular luncheon speaker. The response was simply overwhelming"
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