How to Ditch Small Talk & Be Memorable

Ever heard of a nonversation? If you’re having them, it may be what’s killing your personal branding and job search efforts.

Take a pledge to never have a nonversation again because they do not make you memorable, and they will not get you a job. Have conversations that are meaningful. Tell people interesting things and ask them questions that you want to hear the answers to.

Typical nonversation people have been having with you:

It’s nice to meet you. Yes, it has been a particularly cold winter. So, what do you do? Oh, you are a student? That’s nice. What do you study? Oh, journalism. That’s nice. Well…it was nice to meet you. Stay warm out there.

Make the transition from nonversations to conversations by connecting the situation that you are in to something personal and interesting about yourself. Share a tidbit about yourself that the other person wouldn’t know by doing a once-over of your resume.

Did you just say that tonight’s speaker reminded you of a lesson you learned while you were working on your senior thesis in Nicaragua? Wow, how interesting! What part of the speech reminded you of your senior thesis? What was the lesson you learned? What was your senior thesis about? How did you like Nicaragua? And so on and so forth…

If there is no context within which you are meeting the other person, then try starting with a question to find out if you have similar interests:

Do you mind if I ask you a question? Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about [fill in the blank], and I’ve been asking people their perspective on it.

There are tons of great conversations to be had out there. What are some of the conversations you want to have with people? What do you wish people asked you when you met them? What are some of the most memorable conversations you’ve had with people you just met?


Morgan is the social media strategist at Media Two, an interactive advertising agency in downtown Raleigh. In her role at Media Two, Morgan Siem helps businesses, both B2B and B2C to leverage social media channels to meet their business goals. Morgan has worked with clients such as Microsoft Office for Mac Business Unit, Entertainment Publications, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Kindermusik International and Special Olympics of North Carolina. Morgan graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in May of 2009 with a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication and a minor in Spanish. Follow her on Twitter.

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8 Responses to “How to Ditch Small Talk & Be Memorable”

  1. I LOVE this post. It is great because we as students must find a way out of small talk to really make an impression. Do your research before hand so that when you are talking to someone, you can ask them an informed question about themselves. And hey, doesn’t everyone like talking about themselves?

    Great tips Morgan.

  2. avatar Melis says:

    Great tips! I completely agree. Having moved a lot, and now starting all over in Geneva, each person you meet counts. You’ll never know what someone has to say until you ask!

  3. avatar Jess C. says:

    I’ve never heard of a “nonversation” before, but boy have I had ‘em! This is an excellent post. Great tips, Morgan!

  4. avatar Lew Sauder says:

    One of the problems I faced when I was in college and interviewing was that I didn’t feel I had the background and experiences to start an interesting conversation. I studied the Dale Carnegie approach, which worked wonders. Ask people about themselves, particularly as Morgan describes, to get context to the situation and make it memorable. When interviewing, ask the interviewer about pictures or nicknacks on their desk.
    One caveat: Make sure not to sound like your interrogating them, stalking them or blatantly kissing up to them. Just take an interest in them.
    Lew Sauder, Author, Consulting 101: 101 Tips For Success in Consulting (

  5. avatar Jack says:

    This is actually new way of looking o small talk. For me anyway. I’ll try to implement it. Thanks!

  6. [...] nonversations.   Your conversation should be memorable.   Be sure to share information about yourself that [...]

  7. [...] that what social media has been about? Building these relationships? No one wants to engage in nonversations as my friend Morgan Siem (@morgansiem) would put [...]

  8. avatar tom says:

    Just moved to New Freedom Pa. People are so much more willng to talk to you here than in NEPA. Even the nonvos are friendlier.

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