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The Fine Art of Small Talk: How To Start a Conversation, Keep It Going, Build Networking Skills -- and Leave a Positive Impression! Hardcover – October 1, 2005

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The Fine Art of Small Talk: How To Start a Conversation, Keep It Going, Build Networking Skills -- and Leave a Positive Impression! + How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships + Conversationally Speaking: Tested New Ways to Increase Your Personal and Social Effectiveness
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Hachette Books; First Edition edition (October 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401302262
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401302269
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #198,924 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Would-be social butterflies will get encouragement but little inspiration from this not quite scintillating self-help primer. Fine, a conversation consultant, insists that small talk is the necessary overture to deeper communication, the key to generating business leads and dates and a pathway to a richer life in which strangers are magically transformed into acquaintances. She covers such cocktail-party conundrums as how to spot "approachable" interlocutors, how to make introductions, how to butt into an intriguing conversation, resuscitate a flagging one and bail out of a boring one, and how to resist one-uppers, know-it-alls, motormouths and other abusers of talk. Given the ingrained human reluctance to talk to strangers, will, not technique, is the real issue. Much of the book is taken up with motivational pep-talks to get readers to initiate contact (one agonizing exercise suggests "walk through the mall and just say hello to ten people as you pass them"); in a world where everyone feels at a loss for words, Fine argues, saying virtually anything makes one a "hero." Unfortunately, it doesn't necessarily make one a great conversationalist. The heart of Fine's methodology consists of long lists of icebreakers and inviting questions that she instructs readers to memorize and regurgitate as needed to jump-start and sustain conversations, and these read like rather bad small-talk-dull ("How has the internet affected your life?"), stilted ("Do you have a personal motto or creed?") and awkward ("Describe an embarrassing moment you've had."). Tongue-tied readers can benefit from her pointers and exhortation, but one hopes they will think a little harder before they speak.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal

These two books treat similar subjects, but the contrasts are significant. One covers the entire landscape of speaking, whereas the other focuses just on "small talk." The title of Speak from the Heart describes the book's very solid premise. Emmy Award-winning broadcaster and motivational speaker Adubato emphasizes the importance of being genuine as he attempts to cover every conceivable speaking situation, including public speaking, private conversations, group discussions, and listening. He guides readers in the use of eye contact, developing a conversational style, and being comfortable with their message. Despite many charming personal anecdotes and stories drawn from other sources, this book remains a heavy read. Ironically, while Adubato tells us to make a connection with our audience rather than to "cover the material," he does a much better job of covering the material than of connecting. In contrast, Fine fully engages her audience. She involves readers in the discussion and gives lists of lines people can use to start, maintain, or end a conversation. She discusses conversation topics and how to use them and also includes quizzes, throws in a poem, and scatters a few cartoons to break up the text. Originally released as an audiocassette in 1997, this work comes across much like one of her seminars on small talk. The Fine Art of Small Talk does everything that Speak from the Heart says should be done. Adubato's book is best for academic libraries or large public and business libraries. Fine's is a better choice for most public libraries, as well as business libraries. David Leonhardt, Toronto
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Bestselling author, keynote speaker and communication expert Debra Fine began her career as an engineer, an occupation that allowed her to maintain her natural shyness and avoid situations that required social and personal interactions. Fine is the author of the bestselling book The Fine Art of Small Talk: How to Start a Conversation, Keep It Going, Build Networking Skills--and Leave a Positive Impression (Hyperion), and the second in the Fine Art series, The Fine Art of the Big Talk How to Win Clients, Deliver Great Presentations, and Solve Conflicts at Work (Hyperion), both translated and published in 20+ countries around the world. Her newest title, Beyond Texting: The Fine Art of Face-To-Face Communication for Teenagers is to be published May 2014. Fine is a 15+ year member of the National Speakers Association presenting her programs to hundreds of audiences around the world that include Cisco Systems, Google, University of Chicago Booth Graduate School of Business, Texas Association of School Boards, Credit Suisse First Boston, Spectra Energy, General Electric, COMERICA Banks, Alaska Forum on the Environment, Johns Manville, and NYU Stern Graduate School of Business. Her recent media appearances include The Today Show, "The Early Show," "NPR Morning Edition," "Fox Business News" and CNN. Fine is a regular contributor to Huffington Post as well as Learn more about Fine at

Customer Reviews

The feedback I have recieved from people is that I make them feel good, in a world that is too busy I take time.
Cris McLaughlin
I would recommend it to anyone looking to increase their social circle, job seekers, educators, employers and anyone who wants to improve their conversation skills.
The first thing I would share with anyone reading this review is that the advice offered in this book is pretty obvious and sometimes just plain bizarre.
S. Dyck

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Cris McLaughlin on November 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I found myself walking around day to day saying, "folks just aren't friendly"... my neighbors, church members, parents at my child's school, folks I see every day/week at the grocery store and believe it or not relatives. I think Debra Fine has hit on some of the key reasons that I was not finding folks to be "friendly". Some of the reasons being: we are socialized to be wary of strangers, we think too many questions makes us nosy, introducing ourselves and others is not easy always, initiating, carrying on and ending a conversation is a challenge and lastly, finding similarities and interest in our conversation partners is hard at times.

Ms. Fine advised that no one can wait to be introduced or expect someone else to initiate the conversation and she is right. When I used the suggestions it made a world of difference in the contacts and connections that I began to make. I used the suggestions in professional and personal settings, with women and men and with folks my age and teens.

What I relay to folks when I use these techniques is "I care about you" and "I am interested in you as a person". The feedback I have recieved from people is that I make them feel good, in a world that is too busy I take time. That is really the bottom line about this book, why would I not use the suggestions when the potential is to evoke that kind of feeling from folks that you interact with everyday of your life.

Lastly, I have used this book in many ways. I have passed the book to my husband who works in a technical field is reading the book and has begun using some of the suggestions at his workplace and finding them to be applicable. As a homeschooling parent I used the book as part of a communciations curriculum for my 16-year-old son. Many of the stategies he used to get a job and now to maintain his employment; he has been told he is a wonderful conversationalist.
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334 of 365 people found the following review helpful By steve on August 24, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book was a real disappointment. Although the information on the cover doesn't say so, it's aimed almost exclusively at people in business situations; almost all of Fine's examples deal with corporate conferences and other networking events. For example, her top suggested line for exiting conversations is "I need to go see the exhibits." She continually emphasizes how improving your small talk skills will win you new clients, a promotion, etc. What about just making friends? The idea that you might want to improve your conversational skills in everyday social or family situations is hardly mentioned at all.

Fine also has some peculiar ideas about what constitutes "small talk." She offers a long list of "icebreakers" for initiating conversations with people you don't know. Unfortunately nearly all of these are too personal, too serious, or just bizarre. Imagine trying to strike up a conversation with a stranger by saying, "If you could replay any moment in your life, what would it be?" The person would just think you're either nosy or a kook. She even suggests using political statements as conversation starters, which is just asking for trouble.

There are a few good suggestions in the book; she has useful advice for dealing with egocentric people who talk endlessly about themselves. However, all of Fine's good ideas could easily fit on two or three pages.
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56 of 60 people found the following review helpful By tommyc7 on February 26, 2006
Format: Audio CD
When deciding whether or not to buy this book, you are obviously reading the reviews (otherwise you wouldn't be reading this. ;) ). Please think about the type of book this is as you read the reviews. This is a book designed for people who are more comfortable dealing with machines, numbers, logic, animals, etc., then they are with people. The author freely admits that she was an engineer and wrote this book to help other engineers and technical people. It is a beginner's book on how to interact with people. If you are married, for example, you probably don't need this book. You were able to talk to someone. I suspect the people who found it boring or uninformative were too advanced. Like a brain surgeon reading a high school biology book. But, if you're extremely shy and get really nervous when interacting with people, you must own this book.
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47 of 51 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 16, 2001
Format: Audio Cassette
At the same time, I have ordered Debra's tape, I have bought also 7 others books and video, audio tapes from others authors, on the same subject of conversation. Debra's tape , definitely appears to me, easy, confortable, to apply for any occasions to talk to people Her voice is very friendly and warm. I am so glad to have found Debra' audio tape. She gives , not only advice and techniques, but immediate examples of small talk for introducing yourself , with warmness and giving people the chance and the desire to develop conversation with you. Usually, when invited to dinner, or cocktails , or meeting , I go with the apprehension to meet new people , and to be in the situation of nothing to say , and to appear not interesting to be with.The days after listening to Debra's tape, I have the opportunity to apply in a dinner . I was the guest on a table of 12 persons that I did not know. The evening was lovely, because at last I could engage conversation with new people, as if we were friends. I feel much more confortable ,in such short time and I know that with more training with this tape, I will allow myself, for near future, to love meeting new people, as well as to talk friendly with my clients, my hairdresser, old friends... I really recommend this tape to who wishes to leave a positive impression.
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