These are the types of things I keep in mind when planning (or being suddenly thrust into running) a social scene. They were inspired by d20 Radio’s encounter checklist for SWRPG known as “The List” and developed in response to a request for something more tuned to social situations. I had some help working out the final wording and making it pretty. You can find a PDF form version here: English. And a French version here: French.
Have a point
Do the PCs want something from the NPCs or vice versa? What are the goals of the characters?
Have at least Strength and Flaw for the main NPCs involved, preferably also their Desire and Fear.
How do the NPCs feel about the PCs already? Are they antagonistic, indifferent, or friendly? How might past interactions with the PCs affect them?
Be prepared for compromise resolutions or all-in/capitulation resolutions.
What sort of things will grant boosts/setbacks if brought into play?
Know your PCs
What are the Motivations of the PCs? Have plans to exploit them.
Not all talk
Ensure social skills aren’t the only ones that can be used. What kind of physical or knowledge skills might contribute to the discussion?
Advance the story
Feed useful/actionable information to the players throughout the encounter, even if they’re “losing”.