Small Talk Hacks: Summary & Review

small talk hacks book cover

Small Talk Hacks by Akash Karia is a book on social skills and conversations.
It’s brief and to the point with good content.

Bullet Summary

  • Put yourself in a positive, enthusiastic state
  • Prepare a quick elevator pitch about yourself
  • Ask more personal questions to build a stronger emotional connection

Full Summary

Since most information is solid but is already been covered extensively on this website, I’ll give you a more schematic overview:

First Impression

  • Make a conscious choice to be enthusiastic
  • Take care of your posture
  • Smile
  • Dress well

Break the Ice

  • Use your surroundings
  • Use the latest news and events
  • Ask questions (and listen to the answers!)
  • Just say “hello” (my favorite)
  • Ask for an opinion (what do you think of the party?)
  • Give a sincere compliment

Akash recommends you only do compliments when you really believe in them.
If you don’t, you can thank them without mentioning what you thought of the speech. For example:

Thank you so much for your talk this morning – I really appreciate the time you took out of your busy schedule

My Note:
I disagree with telling anyone about their busy schedule. It’s guesswork and it feels intruding. How do you even know they’re busy? Who are you to infer about their lives?

Overcome Fear of Striking a Conversation

Akash says that to overcome the fear of approaching people you should first understand what exactly it is that you’re fearing. Then it will be easier to address.

Also read:

Memorable Verbal Impression

  • Prepare a 30 seconds commercial (or elevator pitch, something interesting about what you do)
  • Make your commercial specific to the situation
  • Make them visualize what you say
  • Practice your commercial
  • Your commercial is only the tip of the iceberg: don’t over-rely on it
  • Listen more than you speak

Become an Active Listener

  • Nod your head when you agree with some points
  • Rephrase what they have said and feed it back to them
  • Stay focused on the conversation and don’t get distracted
  • If you get sidetracked: refocus
  • Don’t interrupt
  • Ask questions
  • Listen without worrying what to say next
  • Don’t sweat the pauses: don’t be afraid if there is pause after he’s done speaking

Make Your Personality Shine

The author says that to become more charismatic it’s important to embody positive feelings and emotions.

From Introduction to Intimacy

  • Invite approach with open body language and a smile
  • Don’t make snap decisions about people (albeit Blink says snap decisions are often correct)
  • Be genuine
  • Ask for help
  • Ask how you can help
  • Venture into asking personal questions
  • Don’t be pushy though, you want people to naturally open up to rather than prying them open 🙂
  • Research by Dan Ariely reveals that controversial topics make the conversation more interesting

Also read:

How to Revive a Conversation

  • Exact same techniques to start a new conversation
  • Just let it die, maybe the conversation has run its course

Conversation Killers

A few topics or behavior will kill your conversations (and social attractiveness). Avoid all of the following:

  • Monopolizing the conversation
  • Forcing your opinion on others
  • Negativity
  • Profanity
  • Fishing for compliments by lowering your own value

Ending a Conversation Well

  • Give a reason to leave
  • Express appreciation
  • Positive reflection (say what you particularly enjoyed about the convo)
  • Exchange info and schedule next meeting (optional)

small talk hacks book cover

Real Life Applications

All tips are highly practical and applicable. The ones I liked most are:

  • Make a conscious choice to be enthusiastic
  • Tailor your clothes
  • Be specific about what you fear when it comes to social skills

CONS

Using the Latest News
Akash Karia recommends to use the latest news to open up a conversation. I disagree with that idea, it’s the shallow way of starting a conversation. Similar to Tim Ferris, I also believe you should not waste time with the news.

PROS

Brief & To The Point
No fillers and time wasters, only the good stuff.

Mostly solid advice
For the most part it’s solid advice. Much better than many other bigger sellers I have reviewed.

Review

Small Talk Hacks is a brief book that goes straight to the point.

It’s a bit basic in the sense that most people who have been reading on social skills and/or are already good will not find a lot of revolutionary ideas, but for beginners it’s an awesome book.

And also for the more experienced, it can be a good refresher (or you can even find some new nuggets of wisdom).

Read more summaries or get the book on Amazon

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