The Fine Art of Small Talk: How To Start a Conversation, Keep It Going, Build Networking Skills — and Leave a Positive Impression!
The Fine Art of Small Talk – Nationally recognized communication expert 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? Does the thought of striking up a conversation with a stranger make your stomach do flip-flops? Do you sit nervously through job interviews waiting for the other person to speak? Are you a “Nervous Ned or Nellie” when it comes to networking? Then it’s time you mastered The Fine Art of Small Talk.
With practical advice and conversation “cheat sheets,” The Fine Art of Small Talk will help you learn to feel more comfortable in any type of social situation, from lunch with the boss to an association event to a cocktail party where you don’t know a soul.
Book Review by David Arnold
Detailed and specific strategies to improve your daily communication skills
I would put this book in the category of “professional self help”. Because of my desire to further my career, I have strayed away from the enjoyment of fiction and my David Baldacci obsession to this genre. I received this book on Saturday, 5/27/18, and finished it within two days. It is a very short read, around ~200 pages, large print, small pages, and has several comic-style strips, and long lists taking up space, making it a quick read (~3 hours).
As far as content goes, the book actually does deliver. It has some very detailed advice regarding speaking to people from starting a conversation, continuing a conversation, transitions, topics of conversation, etc. The reason I knocked off one star is because each category the author gives taxonomies (IE: The 5 types of conversation killers), but does not go on to direct the reader on how to correct this behavior. One other pitfall I found in the book is the amount of “confidence building” or “ego stroking” the author conveys, although I understand the audience and reason for this, it is a little too much at times.
Overall I think this book is great, especially for people who experience anxiety with social situations as I do. With that being said, the book does not do the work for you, but it does prepare you on how to effectively make social situations more successful. I even gave it to my intern, who is a recent college grad, and has been open about her anxiety at professional mixers, and she found it very helpful. Some of the advice can easily be implemented very successfully the same day as reading, which I found to give me a big confidence boost.
Among Fine’s best tips are how to deal with these so-called conversation criminals, and how not to be one. — USA Today, October 17, 2005
The meatiest part of Fine’s book is a classification of common behaviors that can kill a conversation. — USA Today, October 17, 2005
Originally published: 1997
Genre: Self-help book