Eight Tips for Effective Cocktail Conversation

by, Etiquette International

"A gossip is one who talks to you about others; a bore is one who talks to you about himself; and a brilliant man is one who talks to you about yourself." (Lisa Kirk)

Listen before jumping into a conversation. You may not want to deal with those people.

Make eye contact with one person in the group, smile and listen until they include you.

Introduce yourself when there is a pause in the conversation.

If you have something relevant to add to a group's conversation, jump in, then introduce yourself afterward.

To initiate a conversation, you can talk about the situation, talk about yourself, or talk about the other person.

Avoid taboo topics:

  • off-color or discriminatory jokes
  • personal relationships and sexual proclivities
  • health
  • diets
  • personal tragedies
  • cost of anything personal
  • income
  • controversial topics like politics or religion
  • free advice from professionals

Don't blend; circulate. Spend five to seven minutes with each person or group.

Always remember to close a conversation. Shake hands and take your leave.


Etiquette International is a full-service business etiquette firm that works with organizations that want their people to be more effective and have greater impact in all they do. Since 1989, Etiquette International has advised the corporate, multinational, and private arenas on American and international protocol, business etiquette, and entertaining.

You may like these other stories...

Teresa Taylor, former COO of the multibillion dollar telecommunications giant Qwest, remembers the exact moment she stopped chasing the work-life balance myth.When Taylor's eldest son Jack was in second grade he invited...
Event Date: September 10, 2014, 2 pm ETTransfer your knowledge and experience to prepare your team for the challenges and opportunities of an accounting career.  Kristen Rampe will show you can have a significant impact...
Regulatory compliance, risk management and cost-cutting are the big heartburn issues for finance execs in the C-suite. Yet financial planning and analysis—a key antacid—is insufficient.That's just one of the...

Already a member? log in here.

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Sep 9
In this session we'll discuss the types of technologies and their uses in a small accounting firm office.
Sep 10
Transfer your knowledge and experience to prepare your team for the challenges and opportunities of an accounting career.
Sep 11
This webcast will include discussions of commonly-applicable Clarified Auditing Standards for audits of non-public, non-governmental entities.
Sep 24
In this jam-packed presentation Excel expert David Ringstrom, CPA will give you a crash-course in creating spreadsheet-based dashboards. A dashboard condenses large amounts of data into a compact space, yet enables the end user to easily drill down into details when warranted.