Small talk is the essential skill that any speed dater must have in their repertoire, but a surprising number of daters have no idea what it means, or how to do it. Here’s your rough guide to keeping it light in that crucial three minutes of conversation that will decide if you are a hit, miss or a maybe.
Firstly, get clear on what you are trying to communicate: the whole point of a speed dating three minute window is to convey the idea that an evening with you is going to be great fun.
Both men and women who are looking for someone to spend time with, or who are auditioning for a girlfriend/boyfriend, are keen to see signs in another person that they get the interplay of dating banter.
I have seen perfectly promising dating encounters be destroyed by the following things, talking about exes (obviously), discussing politics or the economy (a particularly inept acquaintance of mine decided, during the 2008 elections to ask an attractive American girl if she supported George W. Bush, she said nothing but rolled her eyes), asking about boring things like jobs, careers or where people live.
So what do you talk about then? All the other people are going to bore the socks off the person you like by asking them about their job, you must remember that you are only looking to do one thing, establish a vibe, not conduct a job interview.
Think for a good long while about who you really are before you attend the event, write down the things that interest you, how you express yourself, what you find funny and what you really love. Do this, because before you go to the event you need to know what you are trying to subtly and briefly convey to the people you will meet.
You want them to see the essence of you, the authentic, relaxed, amusing and 'easy to be with' person that anyone can make a connection with.
Forget asking about anything else, or trying to communicate anything else, all those things are secondary to this one task, because when you can effectively, succinctly and entertainingly make this one point, your chances of meeting someone special improve dramatically.
Small talk isn't about communicating small things, trivial topics and the like, it's the art of communicating big ideas (confidence, maturity, intelligence, humour) using small means (discussing the merits of custard creams vs bourbons, for example or what on earth is happening in Bonnie Tyler's video for Total Eclipse of the Heart).
Small talk is a means of demonstrating to the other person that you 'get it', that you are relaxed enough to avoid big topics, because you know there will be time enough for all that later.
Author bio: Smart Dating UK is a dating comparison site offering independent expert reviews of the best online dating sites, plus user reviews and a comprehensive list of all UK speed dating and singles events.