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Conversation Starters

Below are some conversation starters for business English classes. The questions can be used as a warm-up or full conversation lesson.


If you had to start your own business right now, what type of business would you start? Why? 

What was the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever received? How did it help you?

What is the worst piece of advice you’ve ever received? Did you take the person’s advice?

Are people more stressed out than they were 30 years ago? Why or why not?

Have you ever purchased anything from an infomercial? What was it? Was it a good purchase? Did you get ripped off?

Is your career the career you thought you’d have when you were in high school?  

Have you ever had to give a speech in front of a large group of people? How did it go?

Have you ever made an embarrassing mistake in English? What was it?

Agree or disagree: It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

Have you ever worked for a company that offered unusual perks to its employees? Explain.

Do you know anyone who is very disorganized but still able to be successful? Tell your partner(s) about this person.

Who is the most organized person you know?  

Have you ever forgotten about an important event? What happened?

If you had $1,000,000 to invest, how would you invest it?

What book has influenced you the most? How has it influenced you?

Can someone be taught to be a leader?

What was the best business trip you’ve ever taken? The worst?

Who was your favorite college professor? How did this person influence you? How would your life be different if you hadn’t taken a class with this professor?

Is it okay for companies to not pay their interns? Why or why not? Did you have an internship? Was it a paid position?

Are dress codes important? Is there any benefit to having a formal dress code?  

What is the biggest goal that you’ve already achieved? How were you able to achieve this goal?

What is a good age to retire? When you retire, do you think you’ll still work as a consultant or have a part-time job?

What’s the biggest challenge you’re facing right now? How are you responding to this challenge?

Tell us about a time you got ripped off? Did you try to get your money back?

Tell us about something you bought that was a terrific bargain?   

Do you think friends make good business partners? Why or why not?

What is the best customer service experience you’ve had? The worst?  

What is the most controversial law in your industry? Why is it controversial? Do you think it will ever be changed?

Have you learned from your failures? If so, how?

Are you a multitasker? Do you think people multitask too much?

Do you think the office is a good place to get work done? Why or why not?

Does business jargon bother you? Are there any particular expressions that bother you? Is jargon common in your industry?

What is the most useful website for professionals in your industry? Why?

Who was more influential, Bill Gates or Steve Jobs?

Are people in your industry accurately portrayed in movies and TV shows? Explain.

Do you know of any cases of businesses being sued for strange reasons? What happened?  

Have you ever met one of your heroes? What was it like?

Do you think we should regularly disconnect from technology? Do you normally try to do this or are you always connected?

Do you think it’s better to be lucky than good? Why or why not?

If you didn’t have your current job, what would you be doing?

Did you have part-time jobs when you were in high school in college? What did you do? What was the worst part-time job you’ve ever had?

Do you think it’s important for high school and college students to work part-time jobs or do you think students should concentrate 100% on their studies? Explain.

What do you think is the hardest college major? Why? Do you know anyone who graduated with a degree in that field?

Would you describe yourself as an optimist, pessimist, or realist? Which type of people do you think tend to be the most successful?

Tell us about a time you solved a problem by coming up with a creative solution.

Agree or disagree: We should use translators and interpreters more instead of insisting on English.

What unusual skill or skills have come in handy at your current job?

What recent technological advancements have made your job easier? Have any technological advancements made your job harder?

Agree or disagree: It’s okay to exaggerate and not be 100% truthful on your resume.

Are you an extrovert, introvert, or somewhere in the middle? Are most people in your industry extroverts or introverts?  

What’s the best decision you’ve ever made in your professional life? The worst?

Do you have any unusual ways of coping with stress? What are they? Do you know anyone who copes with stress in an unusual way?

What countries would you not mind relocating to? Why?

Also see these business English conversation lessons.