Small talk is a mode of verbal communication which is common among Humans.
In 2369, Data observed that a function of small talk is to fill silent moments with non-relevant conversation and that Humans often use small talk during awkward moments. Wishing to learn as much about Humanity as possible, Data wrote a subroutine for his own programming enabling him to small talk. Upon attempting small talk with Jean-Luc Picard, Data was advised by the captain to keep an eye on Commander Calvin Hutchinson, who was notoriously known to be quite a small-talker. Picard, who disliked Hutchinson's exaggerated use of small talk, went as far as to ironically referring to him as a "master of small talk." (TNG: "Starship Mine")
Tuvok once remarked, "Vulcans do not make small talk." He preferred to read rather than engage in it. (VOY: "Ex Post Facto") Nevertheless, in 2374 he briefly did just that with the Leonardo da Vinci hologram after its program had been abducted. (VOY: "Concerning Flight")
In "Lesson 2: The Encounter in a Public Place" in The Doctor's lesson entitled "Love Amid the Stars: A Romantic Bestiary", he introduced Seven of Nine to the holoprogram Paris 3, Chez Sandrine, to help her practice engaging in the art of small talk.
The lesson followed with scripted conversation:
- Male: "Hi, there."
- Female: "Hello."
- Male: "Come here often?"
- Female: "This is my first time."
- Male: "You must be new in town? How do you like the south of France?"
- Female: "It is very quaint – exactly as I've always pictured it."
- Male: "May I buy you a drink?"
Seven ultimately found the exercise pointless, but The Doctor pointed out to her that small talk is "a vital dating skill [that] helps to establish a rapport with your companion." (VOY: "Someone to Watch Over Me")