My go-to questions are what they do for a living, then immediately in to world news.
If they seem uninterested, you might ask them what style of lesson they are looking for; if they understand what you are saying; and ask them about their interests, hobbies and passions. What is it they care not deeply about in terms of world issues.
Hope that helps.
I find that sometimes people can't understand my accent, so I have to speak slower and clearer, then it seems to improve.