I was painfully shy growing up. I ended up marrying a lawyer and as a result had to go to many social functions around town. I would often be in situations where I had to converse with people I did not know. Talking to strangers is tough for most people but was especially so for someone like me who was quite shy.
I got around this challenge by asking questions to get the other person talking. I would listen and take a sincere interest in their answers. Most everyone likes to talk about themself so questions were the solution for my shyness.