So you're stuck for something to say - a complete stranger and you've got to make conversation. The weather's completely exhausted as a topic, so is "What do you do?" and "Where is that?", "Live over here?" and everything else you can possibly think of short of the important questions "Would you like to have a brief but memorable sexual encounter with my good self?", or, for the more casual of persons: "Wanna ROOT?". You need something to bridge the gap from point A. "Questions that you don't care about the answers to" and point B. "Oh PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE say YES!"
So what do you say?
In communication, professional conversationalists (Insurance Agents, Professional Salespeople, etc, etc) use a technique called OPEN ENDED QUESTIONS; that is, questions that cannot be answered with "Yes" or "No". For instance, "Have you thought about life insurance?" is a close-ended question, whereas "Where do you think the greatest risk to your livelihood resides?" is open ended, and forces the other person into speaking for a time, giving you some more information about themselves and what they're interested in. The next step is then to head for the common ground - a topic you both know about, and from the the conversation will bloom!
For instance, here's an example of my after dinner chat when I'm trying to pick up that special someone for a deep and meaningful 2.12 minutes of sexual encounter.
Me: How was the meal?
She: It was fine.
[I go in with my open ended question:]
Me: Where do you think the greatest risk to your livelihood resides?
She: Piss off, Jerk!
This happens several times a night, and I'm seriously thinking of studying my Insurance salesperson more, because his conversations always seem to last a little longer...
Anyway, say you want to be creative and think up your own questions.
Well, a general guideline is to start your sentence with a W word. These are: WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, HOW and WHY. The more sophisticated amongst you are probably already aware that one of the words mentioned above is not a "W" word and are nudging each other in a rich, protestant way and making "tsk" noises, which is an easier word to type than say. For you I will demonstrate a further example of an open ended "W" question:
"Why don't you go and stick your head in a pig?"
Ok! Now back to the conversation skills again. Think about them and practice them where-ever possible, except on the bus with a person who smells of rotten vegetables and leaky bladder infections - Practise on people who you WISH to talk to. If, however, you wish to "pick up" a person with a leaky bladder infection, disregard this last sentence and advance straight to GO; there is nothing further I can do for you.
For you other 5 people, here's a vague list of open ended questions to avoid:
Exactly What is that fungus growing on your teeth?
Which STD's do you think I've personally experienced?
Where did you get such an ugly face?
How would someone go about picking up a social retard like yourself?
When do you think my sweat pits will reach my nipple line?
Anyway, you can play around with it for a while, and then when you've finished, practice some questions as well.
But for now, I'm off like the social butterfly I am, to pick up a nice tasty one night stand. My lines are perfect:
Me: Hi there, is this seat taken? (close-ended and non-threatening)
She: It's my friend's; at the bar...
Me: Thanks (sitting down)
Me: So, Why exactly do you feel you need insurance policy?
She: Goodbye. >Thwack<
Ambulance: >Wee Waa Wee Waa Wee Waa...<