In life (and in love) you have two options:
  1. Wait for good things to happen. Or,
  2. Make good things happen.
Now, which sounds like a better plan? Dates usually go one of two ways: they start well and get better; or they start poorly and get worse. So what's the key to a successful date? It's all in the conversation - here's 4 ways to make it great:
  1.  Ask open-ended questions — people like to talk, so give them an opportunity:  don't ask where someone is from; ask where they are from and how it compares to the place they are now. If they live near where you're meeting, try asking what other places they have lived and what they liked or didn't like about the various locales. Don't ask if they are enjoying the drink or meal; ask about their favorite restaurants, pubs, and so forth.
  2. Listen before you talk:  the best conversation topics are ones that your date is really interested in. How can you tell what those are? By listening to them of course! If he/she comments on some specific menu items, ask them what type of food they love; do they/can they cook; where's the best (specific food item) they've had in the city recently?
  3. Use your common ground — there's always something two people have in common:  whether it's something as basic as what you think of the restaurant, or as specific as identifying a shared love of the outdoors, you can always find something you and another person have in common to start a chat. Just be ready with open-ended follow up questions once you've broken the ice using the common ground.
  4. There are certain safe things we all love talking about — travel, activities, pets, movies, food come to mind:  shared stories is one of the easiest ways to start a conversation that will keep on flowing, but talking about the crazy things pets do, funny travel stories, and anecdotes from your day all work well. One "Can't Miss" conversation topic: asking your date their favorite place to travel (and why?) or a recent travel story; then tell them yours.