Selecting the perfect lunch topic requires planning and a little study time. A few general subjects help you ease into a lunch conversation with a group you do not know. As you grow to know them better you can begin introducing more personal subjects that speak to their individual interests and preferences.
Peripheral Business Interests
Each business is unique and affected by outside influences. You can study these effects and prepare a conversation topic that is ideal to the business interests of your lunch companions. Review the markets you know are significant to their organization and determine how those markets are positively or negatively affecting them. Look for positive indicators to keep the conversation pleasant. For instance, if you are having a lunch with a group of book editors, you can discuss a few of the books that the company has published recently, their performance and even your personal insight on the works.
Sports are a safe topic over lunch but make sure that you are up to date and aware of the events surrounding local sports teams. You can spend a little time on the Internet researching the latest acquisitions and transactions by local teams as well as developing your own insight on their future chances. Read up on local sports celebrities and see what the commentators are saying about their performances in the upcoming game or upcoming season.
After a few lunches, and time to get to know each other, you can ask about their family. Try to remember a few specifics from previous conversations, such as their kids' sports teams or their spouses' latest endeavors. Use their names when referring to them. Always bring up the topic of family by giving people a choice to talk or to give a simple one-word answer as a response, to avoid broaching an unpleasant topic if their family situation has changed. A simple, “How did Tom’s team do this weekend?” is perfect because they can answer with a simple “good” or go into a more in-depth answer.
You can show your experience and culture by discussing places that you have visited. Remember to focus on the place, facts about it, specific sights that you saw and vivid descriptions of the sights, sounds and smells, rather than on yourself in those places. Collect interesting facts and information from your travels and take note of the specifics to give you topics that you can use in your lunch conversations. Avoid props, such as pictures or memorabilia, at lunch; just stick to the conversation and show them that you thoroughly enjoyed your trip.