The more relaxed you are the more natural you will sound.
Whether you're on a first date or spot someone gorgeous while out and about, breaking the ice is that tricky first step on the path to romance. Here are some handy ways to kick-start the conversation.
Read it and speak
Books have always got people talking, so if your chosen hottie is clutching a copy of the new JK Rowling or 50 Shades Of Grey, ask their opinion on whether it's worth all the hype. It will show you're interested in what they have to say and lead to a discussion about your literary interests.
Also, try carrying around an intriguing book of your own to make it easy for people to talk to you but leave the Spice Girls pop-up, scratch-and-sniff volumes at home.
Show some balls
Not literally! An impromptu juggling routine is one way to stand out from the crowd. Whether you're trying to impress a stranger or a date, successfully chucking some fruit or sweets in the air will get their attention and give you a chance to compare party tricks.
If you drop a few, so much the better, it just shows you don't take yourself too seriously but don't do this in museums or art galleries and avoid using eggs, glass items and small animals or children, no matter how cute you think it would look.
Pay the object of your affection a genuine compliment. Asking about someone’s jewellery or clothing will show you're paying attention.
It's also a good way to strike up a conversation with a stranger without coming across as sleazy or resorting to impersonal chat-up lines but do avoid asking the value of any jewellery, as this just sounds like pre-amble to a snatch-and-grab.
The only time it is good to ask a woman about the cost of an item is just before you rip it off her. Again, it is best to do this in the privacy of your own home and with someone you know intimately, but not a near relative.
Arguing as an intro (bad)
Launching into a full-scale row about the crisis in Syria with a near-stranger could kill the romantic mood before it's even begun, but a light-hearted argument can be seriously flirty.
Ask something silly – like whether a latte or flat white would win in a fight – and then argue it out until your pulses are racing.
Again, when you both have mugs full of coffee or other hot liquids, this is not a good time to show off your juggling prowess, no matter how well the conversation is going. This is especially true in Starbucks, believe me.
Prove that chivalry is alive and well by doing something helpful for the one who's caught your eye but again try not to look like a potential mugger.
Holding a door open, assisting with a heavy bag, or picking up something that’s fallen on the floor, these types of favours may spark gratitude and show your caring side.
Some say that it works both ways, and that you should't be afraid to ask for a hand yourself but again be aware of the circumstances.
Avoid using props like crutches, wheelchairs and small children borrowed from relatives. Stick to simple things like dropping a pen, a book or some papers.
Avoid walking into lamposts and doors for attention, the sight of blood, tears and facial damage can put some women off unless they are medically qualified.
Also avoid women who ask you to sign a waiver in these circumstances as they are probably far to astute legally and that is never good in the longer term.
Kind of magic
Cheesy as it may seem, a well-executed magic trick never fails to impress. It's also a great excuse to approach someone and, as it's interactive, will mean they're not merely a spectator.
If the atmosphere is sufficiently flirty, the light contact as you brush over their ear to produce a coin will help make those sparks fly or, if things are not going well, you may get maced. But these are just the risks you take as an amateur magician in uneasy social situations.
A good magicians trick is to make their drinks bill disappear i.e pay for it yourself. I don't mean torching it in the ashtray and laughing nervously, that just gets you thrown out and banned from various premises in the downtown area.
again avoid trying to make precious items disappear, such as watches, rings, pets, small children, etc. You're biggest trick will be to make her boyfriend disappear and be replaced by you.
NB: I mean this in a romantic way, not in an elaborate David Copperfield way because that would be very expensive and more than a bit scary for your average downtown coffee shop, except in Amsterdam, where it would go unnoticed.
A good view
Never underestimate how nice it is when someone values your opinion. It's also a great way to get a conversation going.
When you clink trolleys with someone cute in the supermarket, say, ‘Can I get your opinion on something?’ before seeking an expert view on, say, the best Spanish red wine or whether sweet potatoes might work in a curry.
Do try to take into account their appearance and avoid trampling over racial stereotypes. If you do get into trouble in a supermarket simply cause a sweet potato avalanche and bury yourself under it.
Hopefully, this will also attract the attention of a helpful and considerate woman who comes rushing to your aid and not a shaven-headed goon who claims he is 'security' and roughly handles you into the street.
Not the physical contact you were looking for at all!
It sounds simple, but offering someone a smile can melt the ice and smooth the way towards an easy conversation.
So the next time you see someone you fancy on the bus, give them a warm grin. It will help fire up a connection between you, especially if you're surrounded by grumpy, stony-faced commuters.
Just make sure a) you have something to say once you've got past the smiling stage b) you have sufficient good teeth at the front of your face c) you do not grimace menacingly d) not burst into a laugh.