Holiday Party Hack: How to Talk with Strangers

Rico Gagliano and Brendan Francis Newnam, hosts of public radio’s <em>The Dinner Party Download</em>, explain how to get the small talk bubbling like a bottle of Veuve Clicquot

What’s the best way to start a conversation with a stranger?
RG: Say hello and listen. During our interviews, we say “uh-huh” more than most radio hosts. Guests are excited to share with us.

Do you have a go-to icebreaker?
BFN: “What’s the best thing that happened to you today?” forces someone to give you an answer that’s not “Hi, my name is Judy, and I’m a publicist.”

If somebody famous is present, should you cop to recognizing them or pretend you don’t?
BFN: Acknowledge you like their work, but don’t ask them what they’re working on next. RG: Sebastian Junger put it this way: If a woman just gave birth, you don’t ask, “When’s your next one coming?” And Daniel Radcliffe once said, “Don’t ever ask a 20-year-old if his career is over.”