Languishing in Drafts forever, this one was mostly done with some terrible attempts at humor sprinkled in. Cut those. Going easiest (top) to most difficult (bottom).
  1. Weather
    Check the forecast for the week on a weather app like AccuWeather, so you can discuss the upcoming cold/warm front or precipitation or ungodly heat or bone-freezing cold etc etc. if on a conference call, finding out what the weather is like where the others are can kill 5 minutes to cover for late attendees.
  2. Pop Culture
    If you have a "thing" (The Bachelor, movies, music, etc) and/or know the other party/parties "thing," arm yourself with at least a headline or two to get the ball rolling.
  3. Sports
    Hit or install a sports score app (I use theScore app). If you know the teams people like already, ask specific questions about recent games/stories; if you are meeting people, ask if they follow the local team for the sport in season - and if they don't, they'll likely be thrilled to tell you why not.
  4. Company Performance/Management
    Good quarter? Bad quarter? Big deal you or they are working on? Common boss or bosses boss? Careful not to get into gossip range or say anything that can be used against you.
  5. Personal Life
    Are you coworkers? Have you already had the perfunctory surface conversations about marital status, kids, pets, etc? Is there a known medical issue in the family? This one can get away from you quickly, so only attempt if you're confident and/or the previous topics struck out.
  6. Religion
    Unless you work in a field related to religion in some way - don't. ❌
  7. Politics
    Call in dead before attempting this one.