First dates are so exciting! But they’re also a little nerve-wracking, so it’s a good idea to prepare a few unusual, thought-provoking and fun conversation topics in advance. Here are five ideas to get you started.

1. A Memorable Trip You’ve Taken

Not everybody likes getting stuck watching a full-blown PowerPoint of somebody else’s vacation pictures. But you know what most people do enjoy? A well-told story. Some of the best stories  and some of the best fodder for date conversations  are the crazy, unexpected and completely unforgettable things that happen to us while we’re traveling.

Have you climbed any mountaintops recently, or seen any black bears? What’s the most romantic location you’ve ever spent the night? There are thousands of ways conversations like these can spin in other directions and help you get to know your date.

2. The Music and Lyrics You Love the Most

There’s the music you love, and then there’s the music you love. What’s the difference? With the latter, you know the lyrics, the names of all the band members and, with little provocation, you can talk for hours about the group’s themes, motivations, history, relationships and everything else that drew you to them in the first place.

Music is a personal experience, but it’s wonderful conversation material to bond over. Just show your enthusiasm and demonstrate why a song or a band means so much to you.

3. What You’re Truly Passionate About

What’s the first question people tend to ask when they meet each other? Unless you’ve managed to break this unfortunate cycle, it’s usually, “What do you do for a living?”

It can make for some dreary introductions at parties, and it’s not a crucial topic of conversation for date night, either. We don’t always get to choose our jobs, in the strictest sense, but we do get to decide how to spend our time.

Maybe you have a green thumb or raise chickens. Maybe you dabble with oil paints or write poetry. Maybe nothing gives you more pleasure than cracking open a new hardcover and immersing yourself in a book.

Be honest with yourself  and all your dates  about the things in life that bring you happiness. You never know where you’ll find common ground!

4. An Embarrassing Childhood Story

We’ve all got one. Or maybe two or three. But hopefully not as many as four. The truth is, kids say and do some of the most astonishing and hilarious things. Try as we might to forget these embarrassing memories, they’re still lingering in our gray matter somewhere, waiting the perfect moment to reappear.

You’ll feel far more comfortable getting to know someone when you let your guard down and laugh at yourself. When you were coming up in elementary school, maybe you got a little competitive during recess and ran away with the ball, right over the fence. Maybe your story involves a ride on a big kid’s bike before you were ready.

Whatever you choose, it’s sure to get the conversation flowing, adding some levity and humanity to what can sometimes be an awkward or stilted experience.

5. Your Long-Term Dreams and Aspirations

We’ve already agreed we’re more than the sum of our jobs and hobbies. But there’s still probably some vision or goal lurking in the back of your head. It’s the idea of starting a farm for rescued alpacas. Or maybe you don’t think you’ll ever settle down at all, and you picture yourself living out your twilight years traveling the country like a nomad in a tow-behind Airstream trailer.

It’s hard sometimes to focus on these kinds of colorful fantasies and long-term visions when we’re all thinking about today and getting through it in one piece. But what we want out of life today and tomorrow says a lot about us, so make this one of your go-to date conversation topics.

No Reason to Feel Nervous

Maybe you feel funny about preparing talking points in advance. Don’t! Few of us get through public speaking engagements without laying the foundations first. And what’s a date but public speaking with higher stakes?

Joking aside, there’s nothing to feel nervous about. You’ll find we all have more in common than not.