Here are a few interesting topics of conversation to get you started:
1. Who is the most interesting person you ever met? You can see how this would easily lead people to voice opinions and ask 'why?'.
2. Where in the world would you most like to visit? This dream location may be shared by others and so it makes people feel solidarity, but also, people will be itching to ask 'why?' and keep the conversation flowing.
3. What has been the most life-changing experience you've ever had? Here, people can share funny and touching stories if they want to, which will help you get a deeper understanding of them. Likewise, if people don't feel relaxed enough to give a heart-felt reply they can answer in a funny way and it all adds to the conversation.
4. What is the most spontaneous thing you've you ever done? That opens the door to all sorts of funny and romantic stories.
5. Who's had the biggest influence on your life? Because this person has influenced the person you're asking, they must view them positively and have strong ideas about them. That means they're likely to enjoy talking about them.
6. What thing that you haven't yet done would you most like to do? This kind of inspirational question always gets people talking and everyone's usually happy to chip in with comments about people's hopes and wishes. Just be careful when commenting that you don't rain on their parade. It's their right to have whatever hopes they want.
7. What is the best quality you've inherited from either of your parents? This is particularly interesting at a family gathering when people know the parents you're talking about. It's also a bit of a bonding experience, speaking favorably about your parents.
8. From which person have you learned most in your life? This is another uplifting, positive topic of conversation that usually gets people talking.
9. What historical figure do you most identify with? This lets you know something about the other people around you; it also opens up discussion of the events these historical figures were involved in. Yes, potentially it takes you into dangerous waters of politics and religion but people usually take this question in the spirit of fun in which it's meant, so potentially awkward moments are easily averted.
10. What kind of music do you like? You could then go on to talk of CDs you've bought or gigs you've been too. You might even ask - 'what's the most embarrassing album in your collection?' That's usually met with all-round hilarity!