Conversation doesn't always come easy, especially when you are speaking to someone you don't know. When meeting someone new, the last thing you want is an awkward silence. Thankfully, there are common topics that can put both you and your new acquaintance at ease.

Your Surroundings

When making small talk with an acquaintance, an easy go-to topic is your immediate surroundings. For example, if you are at a party, you can comment on the type of music that is playing or the decorations in the room. Talking about your surroundings works because it is a mutual situation that you are both experiencing.

Personal Compliments

Complimenting the person you are talking to can break the ice. Comment on something immediate, such as their appearance. For example: “I love your haircut!” You could also comment on a past achievement. For example, "Congratulations on winning the basketball game, you and the team did a great job!" A man should avoid commenting on a woman's physical features to avoid misunderstandings or unintentional offense, writes Diane Windingland, a speaker and presentation coach, who wrote the book, “Small Talk, Big Results: Chit Chat Your Way to Success!”

General Interests

Learning about someone's career and hobbies is a good way to get to know them. Ask about the classes she’s taking. This can lead to a conversation about what her dream job is or what she aspires to become. You may discover that you have hobbies in common. Ask follow-up questions and show that you are truly interested in what she has to say.

Pop Culture

Many people have a common knowledge about pop culture. If you are caught up on Hollywood gossip, chances are that someone is interested in hearing or talking about it. The article "Become a Better Conversationalist," on the Toastmasters International website, suggests getting caught up on current events. You can also discuss the latest movie or ask about his favorite band. This will tell you something about him without getting too personal.

Topics to Avoid

When chatting with new acquaintances, the last thing you want to do is get into an argument or offend someone. Windingland advises against over sharing with a new acquaintance. Avoid talking about health issues or serious personal problems. It would also be wise to avoid cracking politically incorrect jokes. Other topics to stay away from include politics and religion.