Time to Get Good at Small Talk.

Many people find small talk awkward and pointless, but it plays a critical part in building connections with others we don’t yet know.
We engage in small talk (light, everyday conversation) to build a foundation for more important discussions. 
These informal exchanges help us sense the mood of others and signal ours to those around us. Your tone will set the tone!
The simplest way to start is to comment on something in the shared environment and then follow up with an open-ended question.
“I see a Yankee supporter is in the meeting today.” 
Person reacts. 
“What was the best game you ever saw?”
If it is appropriate, a compliment always draws someone out.
“I heard you speak at last month’s meeting. The info you shared was very helpful.”
Current events work well, but they need to be situations that most people will know about. 
Avoid contentious topics (money, politics, etc.), and avoid asking a lot of questions or it becomes too much like an interrogation. 
If you are leading the meeting or hosting the event, it is up to you to get the small talk started, but keep an eye on the time.