Noun: FlyBy

The thoughtful, brief exchange of ideas by spoken words.

Synonyms: Chat, short presentation, purposeful small talk, brief conversation.


I was walking downtown and had a FlyBy with an old friend to update her on my latest job.

At the party I had a quick FlyBy with Dan and shared my ideas for the next neighborhood block party.

I ran into Rebecca doing some last minute holiday errands and she asked, “What’s new?”  I then gave her my FlyBy, a story about our latest travels.


I am so bored with the same old small talk at social gatherings – how’s work? What tv shows are you watching?  How about this weather!  Who cares?  I need more.  You deserve more.

It’s that time of year: holiday parties, office parties, seeing old friends and colleagues out and about and (for some) the dreaded “small talk.” This holiday season, I challenge you to reframe your idea of small talk.  Let’s reimagine small talk; let’s have higher expectations and think of these brief conversations as a starting point to learn something, find inspiration, have more fun and have an overall more interesting exchange.  The key to a FlyBy is to keep it short.  You don’t want to monopolize the conversation; you want to build a runway that leads to a more interesting conversation.

For example, you’re at a holiday party and you are horrified at the idea of having to start a conversation from nothing or get stuck on the same old boring topics.  Try this: Think about who your audience might be and what interests them most.  Are they sports fans, readers, travelers, theatergoers, outdoor enthusiasts or big supporters of the community?  Using their perspective and priorities as a starting point, identify a nugget of information or a short story you can share with them to help generate interest and a larger conversation.  “I see Hamilton is coming to town, have you seen it yet?” Or, “I was reading about the new ropes course in the park; have you checked it out?” Or, “What personal travel do you have on the calendar for 2019?” Sometimes it’s best to take the business route: “I know you’re in finance; what exciting projects have you worked on recently?” There is no right or wrong here – just be genuinely curious.

Now, if someone else takes the initiative and starts the conversation – raise the bar.  Don’t go to the easy answers. Kick it up a notch and dive deeper into a topic or steer the conversation toward a topic that might be more interesting.  A hot topic in your local community, an article you read, a podcast you enjoy… the list is endless.

NPR’s Terry Gross, host of Fresh Air, says “It helps to organize your thoughts beforehand by thinking about the things you expect you’ll be asked and then reflecting on how you might answer.” Before you get caught in the holiday shuffle, prepare yourself with topics and tidbits for those you might see this time of year.

See Terry’s full article at: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/17/style/self-care/terry-gross-conversation-advice.html

Happy Holidays!