As an extremely unsociable person who is forced to come into contact daily with at least several people who expect verbal contact, I invent little hooks, or small entertaining anecdotes, that I can deliver without much effort. To give an example, my current seasonal hook is “there will be 5 languages spoken around my Thanksgiving table.” I have fed this hook to about half a dozen people today. It works well because I don’t have to come up with a new line for each individual who awaits verbal reinforcement from me. I don’t have to think about what to say at all. I memorize one line, and then people kind of start talking to themselves about it, and all I have to do is make encouraging noises while thinking about something else.
If I’m so unfortunate that I find myself having to go to a party, I prep a hook in advance, and then go from one little group to another, repeating it to each group in turn. It looks like I’m circulating, which gives me an excuse to disappear in the folds of the venue after a while.
People are like hungry birds, constantly needing to be fed with meaningless little chatter. I don’t understand this need but I have learned to pretend to participate.