Hello. Such an easy word, right? It’s simple, succinct, and it’s almost always the perfect way to start a conversation with someone new. But, what comes after that? How do you go about creating an engaging, interesting conversation with anyone, from your new colleague to a cool CEO you meet while networking?
One of the best ways we’ve found is to find common ground. Maybe you’ve both been following a particular news event or you’re both in the middle of the same great book. By equipping yourself with a wide breadth of knowledge, you become a force to be reckoned with, since you can have a conversation with anyone and everyone. And the best way to quickly learn a lot while also having a blast? Podcasts. They’re fun, easy to access, and incredibly diverse. But since it can be hard to know where exactly to begin, we’ve rounded up the ones you need to listen to in order to become a master at conversation.
Lena Dunham’s new podcast is about all the things you already discuss with your very best friend: love, work, friendship, your body, and so on. It’s casual, fun, and the perfect compliment to the days when you’re not reading Dunham’s newsletter Lenny or watching Girls. Plus, there’s a good chance that anyone you talk to has interacted with Dunham’s work in some way, shape, or form.
I cannot begin to tell you the number of times I’ve been having a tepid convo with someone when all of a sudden the subject of Serial comes up and suddenly, the conversation goes from 0 to 100 in less than a second. Anyone who has listened to Serial has something to say about it, and the second season just recently came out, so now there’s even more to share.
This BuzzFeed podcast has been around for less than a year, but it’s still a must-listen if you love the web. In the show, two BuzzFeed editors explore all the strange and random corners of the Internet, giving you plenty of ammo when talking to anyone who even vaguely likes technology.
I’ve never heard someone talk as emphatically about a podcast as my friend talks about Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History. Even though some episodes can be up to four hours long, don’t be intimidated by the length. Carlin makes learning history an exciting event, and you’ll be geared up to dish out facts with any history buff.
[Related: How to Deal with Awkward Conversations]
5. The Nerdist
Another podcast classic, The Nerdist is hosted by actor and stand-up comedian Chris Hardwick with his friends Jonah Ray and Matt Mira. It’s a great mix of nerdiness and comedy, and occasionally you’ll hear interviews with people like Quentin Tarantino, Kirsten Dunst, and Jack Black. Plus, most people have at least heard of Hardwick and The Nerdist, even if they’re not huge podcast fans.
Let’s be real, we couldn’t make this list without mentioning This American Life. While podcasts can occasionally seem like something for the younger crowd, This American Life is such a classic that most people, even if they’re not crazed fans, are familiar with it. And the show covers such a wide range of stories (seriously, there are over 500 episodes) that you’ll find yourself walking away knowing everything from the intricacies of public schools in Chicago to the life of Frank Sinatra.
Bonus: Modern Love
I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t be more excited that pretty soon the mega popular New York Times column will be transformed into a weekly podcast. If you don’t already read Modern Love, it’s a column dedicated to the “joys and tribulations of love” and it can be heartbreaking, beautiful and lovely all in one well-written package. Even though there’s only an introductory episode up right now, the rest of the podcast is going up early this year, and it’s sure to be a great listen.
Add your Levo profile to your e-mail signature today to start telling your story, your way.
Photo: ImageSource RF / Dream Pictures / Getty Images