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Story of our lives: We’re at a cocktail party, being our usual charming selves, and then, out of nowhere...the most awkward silence in history happens. Instead of making a beeline for the cheese plate, try one of these surefire conversation savers.

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Twenty20

“Did You See that YouTube Video with the Cat?”

The beauty of this one: It doesn’t even matter if you’re talking about a real cat video or not. Just make one up. Either your cocktail party buddy will take the lead and talk about her favorite YouTube video, or you can segue it into a conversation about pets. Does she have any? Does she want any? What about when she was a kid? You’ll be chatting it up for an hour.

bali

“Wait, Didn’t I See on Instagram That You Went to Bali?”

When you’re trying to make conversation with a stranger less awkward, stick to questions about travel, suggests Imogen Lloyd Webber, author of The Intelligent Conversationalist. Chances are, she’s recently vacationed in Hawaii, is planning to go on safari, or would love to take a trip down memory lane and give you the play-by-play of her honeymoon from 15 years ago.

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“Did You Hear They’re Doing Yoga with Goats Now?”

Before going to a party, read up on fun current events that are sure to be conversation catalysts. Speaking of which, have you heard about slow TV? And that frequent Facebook use can help you become a happier person? Even if she hasn’t heard about it, she’s likely to want to weigh in.

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Anthony Harvey/Getty Images

“I Heard [Insert Celeb Name Here] Has a Tattoo...Would You Ever Get One?”

Let’s say the person you’re chatting with has never heard a single one of Rihanna’s songs. In fact, she never watches TV or listens to music and she’s spent the entire year working on her dissertation about quantum physics. Good news: She can still comment on Rihanna’s collarbone art, and maybe show off the tattoo on her ankle.

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Hamilton

“Soooo, Have You Seen ’Hamilton’ Yet?”

OK, it doesn’t have to be Hamilton. It could be Stranger Things or the new season of American Horror Story. Your conversation partner will probably have an opinion on any super-hyped pop culture topic people are talking about right now. But an important tip: If she doesn’t get what all the fuss is about, hear her out and let her take the lead. (Even if she’s totally wrong about Winona Ryder.)

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