Posted on: August 6th, 2012 by Jen Mueller

Talk Sporty to Me BlogI remember playing family softball “games” with my parents and younger brother growing up in Houston, Texas.  Although, they weren’t games in the traditional sense because with only 4 people and 2 softballs it was a lot of running around to shag balls so dad could keep pitching to me and my brother.  Afterwards we’d go out for burgers and ice cream at Dairy Queen.

This is one example of a story that could come up if a coworker strikes up a conversation about the Little League World Series.  It starts on Thursday this week.  All of the games are broadcast on TV and involve teams from around the world.

The Little League World Series can be the perfect lead in to a more personal conversation at work, one that allows you to get to know your colleagues better.  That knowledge gives you a better understanding of where they’re coming from, how they view the world and the different backgrounds they bring to work everyday.  When you take the time to get to know your coworkers they feel valued and become more engaged.

In the example above, a colleague could learn where I grew up, how many siblings I had, the value placed on family time in my house and that we were an athletic family.  All of those nuggets could be helpful in getting to know me a little better.

The conversation for you might include your own little experience or maybe something your kids have done in little league.  This week, if you’re at a loss for something to say try starting the conversation like this, “Did you know the Little League World Series starts this week?  I remember playing little league as a kid… how about you?”

Here are a few other conversation starter ideas.


Olympics – There are so many storylines to choose from, but now that the swimming events are over many people are talking about USA swimmer Michael Phelps.  He is retiring from the sport after winning a record 22-medals over the last 3 Olympic games.  He earned his 18th gold medal in the final race of his career and was able to go out on top of his sport.

  • Phelps has won more medals than any other Olympian.  Do you think anyone will ever top his record?

Usain Bolt retains his title as “Fastest Man in the World” after winning the 100-meter race.  Tuesday he’ll start running his favorite race the 200-meters.  There were questions about Bolt’s fitness level and ability to repeat coming into the games.

  • In what ways do you think he’s silenced his critics?

NFL – The preseason schedule is underway.  New Orleans and Arizona played in the Hall of Fame game Sunday night.  Drew Brees and the Saints won, but the starters didn’t play much.  The early preseason games are usually used to see young players in action.  The remaining NFL teams play their first preseason games later this week.

  • How do you think Brees’ role changes this year without head coach Sean Payton with the team? (He’s suspended due to Bounty-gate earlier in the year.)
  • The game was officiated by replacement officials due to a strike by the regular NFL officials.  The replacements went relatively unnoticed after incorrectly calling the coin toss.  How long do you think the strike continues?

MLB Evan Longoria is expected to return to the Tampa Rays lineup this week.  He’s missed the last 3 months of the season, after tearing his hamstring in late April.  He had been a key piece to their early success but while Longoria was out, the Rays became one of baseball’s contenders as the season gets closer to the playoffs.

  • How does Longoria’s return impact the Rays?


Jen Mueller, America’s Expert Talker, helps business professionals understand the sports conversations that happen every day at work.  Jen’s practical approach helps professionals join the conversations, sound intelligent, and understand how their communication skills can make ’em or break ’em in business.  Her conversation strategy comes from her 12 years of experience as a sports broadcaster.  Jen is available to speak for keynotes, presentations and workshops.  Contact for more information and read more at