I start all my business communication classes by forcing the students to stand and engage in a few minutes of small talk. It’s an important skill and an increasingly lost one, so I give them different scenarios and require them to do introductions or chat with each other.
Even though they are adults, many struggle with this exercise. To help them, I encourage them to frame the conversation like a friendly tennis match (or maybe these days I should say pickleball?!). You make a comment (lobbing the “ball” to the other person) and they build off that comment (and lob it back). If you don’t include a hook or enough information for them to build on, the other person has to “serve” up a new ball and try to start the conversation that way. In other words, if I introduce you by saying “This is Chris,” and leave it at that, there is nothing to keep the conversation going. It’s much stronger if I say “This is Chris; they also have golden retrievers.”
Some of my students end up with a pile of “balls” at their feet — answering all the questions but never asking them in return. Others get a pretty extensive volley going between them and become deeply engaged. Either way, it’s a helpful mental exercise to ensure you are a contributor in the informal chatting.