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Small Talk

If all my talents and powers were to be taken

from me by some inscrutable Providence,

and I had my choice of keeping but one,

I would unhesitatingly ask to be allowed

to keep the Power of Speaking,

for through it, I would quickly recover all the rest.

Daniel Webster.

In fact, the Power of Speaking is highly valued nowadays. And one of the most popular speech genres is small talk.

Small talk is an informal type of discourse that helps to define the relationships between friends, work colleagues and new acquaintances. For example it «breaks the ice» before important business meeting and other events.

It is known that any speech, including a small talk has a beginning, middle and end. Moreover the traditional structure of a speech contains the following elements:

1) introduction, in which the talkers grabs the attention of each other, it allows them to show that they have friendly intentions.

2) the body of the speech, which contains the outline of the major idea. The topics of small talk are less important than their social function. For example: the weather, music, television and films, sports.

3) conclusion, which contains a cheerful goodbye.

What should you do to improve small talk skills? Firstly, stay away from your strong beliefs. Don’t talk about politics, religion and so on. Don’t try to convince the other person that you have the «correct» information about a higher being or other belief system. Secondly, do some research about person you are going to meet: use the Internet, watch TV, read magazines. Common interests help to get acquainted quicker. Thirdly, listen. Listening carefully will help you understand and encourage those speaking to you.

Remember, making effective small talk means lots of practice!


One thought on “Small Talk

  1. Yes, small talk is an important part of communication process. Still, I would like to add that attitude to it varies across cultures. When we learn small talk and use it we should be aware of the type of communicative culture your interlocutor belongs to. Some people consider small talk to be “empty words” and long for serious and sincere conversation. So, while doing research about the person you are going to meet, why not find out about their preferred style of communication. At the same time, I absolutely agree on the issue of listening skills; I suspect there isn’t a culture in which good listeners are not appreciated.

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