How to Have a Good Conversation | Celeste Headlee | TEDxCreativeCoast

  • Published on May 7, 2015
  • When your job hinges on how well you talk to people, you learn a lot about how to have great conversations - and most of us don’t converse very well. A great conversation requires a balance between talking and listening. This balance is important because bad communication leads to bad relationships, at home, at work, everywhere.
    Celeste Headlee has worked in public radio since 1999, as a reporter, host, and correspondent. She was the Midwest Correspondent for NPR before becoming the co-host of the PRI show The Takeaway. She also guest hosted a number of NPR shows including Tell Me More, Talk of the Nation, Weekend All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition.

    Celeste holds multiple degrees in music and still performs as a professional opera singer. She's the granddaughter of composer William Grant Still, the Dean of African American Composers. Celeste is an avid hiker, biker, paddler and dog walker.
    This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at

Comments • 1 484

  • Mike A
    Mike A 19 hours ago

    Smh I wish I watched this the moment it was released.

  • Nordisk Culture
    Nordisk Culture Day ago

    awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww she so cute

  • Mike Jones
    Mike Jones Day ago

    If politicians would obey even half of these, they would be better.

  • Tim Hansen
    Tim Hansen Day ago

    Everyone in the audience: "LAUGH - I know right! Why won't people listen to me? If only everyone else in the world knew this!"

  • Rabiatul Adawiah Mohd Azmi

    This talk makes me become an open-minded person and I love it so much. Thank you.

  • Quỳnh Anh Hoàng
    Quỳnh Anh Hoàng 3 days ago

    I usually share my same situation when my friends talk about their experiences in something, much like some challenges in working or family issues. Because I thought the conversation would be better if we used to in the same situation. Isnt it true? Now I recognize "Don’t equate your experience with theirs". How is this way of conversation be avoided?

  • Samruddhi Joshi
    Samruddhi Joshi 4 days ago +3

    ❤️ from india
    Hat’s off
    Mind blowing conversation skills 👌🏻

  • Adrian Talukder Year 10

    Who knew talking was so complicated

  • irelia 577ksj
    irelia 577ksj 4 days ago

    1:12 thanks to the chosen few

  • Lottie Cooper
    Lottie Cooper 5 days ago +11

    I RARELY type comments-this is one of the BEST talks I have made me go "HMMM.." many times. I intend to listen to it several times so I can really begin to implement these beautiful ways of being in conversation.

  • craycrayhead
    craycrayhead 5 days ago

    words just dont come into my mind

  • I Don't Even Like Chai Latte's

    I have a bad habit of the holding on to that question or story I thought of and attempting to bring the conversation back to it. How do I stop though?

    • Tim Hansen
      Tim Hansen Day ago

      That's a tough one. I just did that the other day, and it felt so awkward, which completely ruins any positive reaction, no matter how amazing the story might feel in your head. I just try to remember that the jarring affects of bringing up something that has past will probably override anyone's desire to hear it or even care, especially if they're really invested in the conversation they're currently having. Seems a shame to waste an amazing story on a situation like that. Save it for a time when it makes more sense to bring it up. And don't try to manufacture a situation like that later either - people can tell when you're trying to bring something up, and that's also really awkward. This is definitely something I struggle with.

  • Amirah k
    Amirah k 5 days ago

    So, Who here likes Game of Thrones?

  • Amirah k
    Amirah k 5 days ago

    That miniskirt quote is gold

  • Rubmeet Off
    Rubmeet Off 5 days ago +1

    This shows that the country was polarized even before Trump became president. People disagreed on a lot. People disagreed on everything

  • SaleFamineVFF
    SaleFamineVFF 6 days ago

    I truly try to apply those rules in daily life but boy, so many people just want to speak about the story they have in mind without listening ! It can be pretty discouraging..

  • demigodlike
    demigodlike 6 days ago

    Spare us the speech of how women are better at 'listening' and 'understanding' (when the opposite is true). They are generally guided by their own feelings/emotions (misguided or not) and don't care about rationality nor facts.

  • Chris Camp
    Chris Camp 7 days ago +1

    This is spot on

  • Sword Sword
    Sword Sword 7 days ago

    Being "PRESENT" is the greatest gift one could give to the person in front, and the are just additional. Even spiritual Masters such as Echark Tolle and Richard Rohr jsut to mention two. Yes, be present: The Power of Now

  • Cc Uu
    Cc Uu 8 days ago 2015 we were more divided then we have ever been! Now again in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019. If you were around for the 1960, same was said then. How about we all learn to play nice with each other.

  • Ushio97
    Ushio97 8 days ago +1

    Qué comparación más mierda y machista que salió con lo de la falda. Encima viniendo de una mujer...

  • Master Blek
    Master Blek 8 days ago

    I came here cause i read "How to Have a Good Government" XD

  • Ehcode
    Ehcode 8 days ago

    As a person who struggles with social anxiety and holding a good conversation I must say this is the best tedx talk I've listened to, and I've watched tons...

  • thomas pacey
    thomas pacey 8 days ago

    5:06 what is laughter
    10:49 as well

  • Gabe.LB7
    Gabe.LB7 8 days ago

    Thoroughly excellent

  • Alberto Silva
    Alberto Silva 9 days ago


  • Tara Es.
    Tara Es. 9 days ago

    Such a good talk, appreciated.

  • Cynthia Uzoka
    Cynthia Uzoka 9 days ago


  • Choon Mei Lim
    Choon Mei Lim 10 days ago

    this was good. really good
    i dont know where i heard bout the opposite of no.6, i read somewhere long ago, to relate to someone you should share your life experience as they are sharing theirs. according to this TEDtalk, thats not how it should be! well i learned alot from her. thank you!

  • Laura wright
    Laura wright 10 days ago

    The jingling noise was driving me insane. But very important subject and she does speak beautifully.

  • Kell Kell
    Kell Kell 10 days ago

    OMG!!!YEEEEAAASSS!!! IF you don't know something...then SAY YOU DO NOT KNOW !!

  • MrSSnorks
    MrSSnorks 10 days ago

    I watch this evrytime i screw a conversetion ( this is 10 th time). I do evrything wrong

  • Hi5 Productionz
    Hi5 Productionz 10 days ago +3

    To many people get offended today by conversation that they have been programmed to disagree with...

  • G-Loves EJ
    G-Loves EJ 10 days ago

    i was doing the exact opposite listening to her talk
    i'm sorry

    DAVID WITT 11 days ago

    Her mini-skirt was a good length.

  • Dirk O'Kennedy
    Dirk O'Kennedy 11 days ago +1

    I was amazed I took a screenshot of your quote hahaha

  • Skyla Thomson
    Skyla Thomson 12 days ago +3

    My problem is
    I only listen to people and never talk cuz I don't know what to say.

  • My own little world
    My own little world 12 days ago +10

    How to have amazing conversations.
    1. Don't multitask.
    2. Don't give advice instead learn.
    3. Use open ended questions...who, what, where.
    4. Go with the flow.
    5. If you don't know..say it.
    6. Don't equate your experience with theirs.
    7. Don't repeat yourself.
    8. Stay out of the weeds.
    9. Listen.
    10. Be brief.

  • 뉴욕 킴박사 l Dr. Kim & NYC

    thumbs up!

  • ben sumen
    ben sumen 12 days ago

    Whats that clicking sound

  • Gambas Keputih
    Gambas Keputih 12 days ago

    Finally here.

  • youngphoenix27
    youngphoenix27 13 days ago +1

    This is one of my favorite ted talks

  • Bob Natarelli
    Bob Natarelli 15 days ago

    I stopped listening at 1:21 after her comment that this is the most polarized the US has ever been. I''m pretty sure that when the American people killed 500,000 of themselves in four years, it would qualify as the most polarized time in US history.

  • Mehdi Noctis
    Mehdi Noctis 16 days ago

    She understand everything

  • OwlNation Legal
    OwlNation Legal 16 days ago

    Knowing the bottleneck is communication solve this; An Ice free Arctic in 2019 or 2020 guarantees an abrupt spike in temperatures, more record superstorms, wildfires, droughts and rain bombs, crop losses, famine, collapse and extinction when skilled labor stops maintaining 1600 nuclear plants and thousands of toxic facilities all around the world already leaking, killing habitats, rivers and oceans. Meanwhile, Plankton levels are down 50%. Our primary oxygen machine is broken and our backup oxygen machine, the Amazon, it's being mowed flat by Brazil's Bolsonaro. Meanwhile the biomass of vertebrates it's down 60%, Fisheries are plummeting, insect populations are down 50% to 75% depending on region, and growing grains at scale for 8 billion people it's becoming increasingly impossible. You have months, not years or decades. Unless Humanity takes aggressive action it is unlikely we will see 2025.

  • Niyaz Ashraf
    Niyaz Ashraf 17 days ago

    to summarise:

    1. Listen more, speak less
    pay attention - Be engaged - dont multitask - be in the moment
    dont pontificate - enter each conv assuming that you can learn something fromthe other person
    use open ended question - who,why,what,when?
    go with the flow of the conversation..dont interject with your thoghts & stories
    if you dont know, say you dont know - talk shouldnt be cheap
    dont equate your experience with theirs - the moment isnt about you -Conversation is not a promotional opportunity
    dont repeat yourself
    be brief - forget the details - dont bore the other person with minute unimportant details
    be genuinely interested in the other person

  • bmcgmusic
    bmcgmusic 18 days ago

    look at this SOYBOY 0:30 has to scan the room to see if its okay to rise his hand. bahhh bahhhh

  • 737tech
    737tech 18 days ago

    Thank you. You can go through 12 years of public school and not talk to anyone. That is a huge problem. Or maybe that is the plan.....

    MAX BACON 19 days ago

    How to have a good conversion ,that,s easy ,dont wave your hands about so much many people find it very patronising,also comb your hair a bit ,it,s easy enough.

  • Anuja Maniyala
    Anuja Maniyala 19 days ago

    Best suggestions!!

  • deborah bwye
    deborah bwye 19 days ago

    That was superb advice... thank you

  • Vishvapalsinh Paramar
    Vishvapalsinh Paramar 20 days ago

    It always depends with whom you are talking.
    So I think details matter Number also matters while you talking about topic which contains number info.

  • Galaxy Lucia
    Galaxy Lucia 20 days ago

    This has been oe f the most helpful TEDx talks I’ve seen in a very long time. Based on her tips, I’m a TERRIBLE conversationalist. But I have hope that with PRACTICE and less ego, I can become a good one and an even better listener.

  • Dave BongoSlide
    Dave BongoSlide 21 day ago

    Great advice as most I know around me like to name drop big themselves up and talk the same bias media fed point of view and because I do not agree with there propaganda there shut to even hear a view, so I'm stuck watching them focus on there phones ant hearing anything the going on about something shallow from tv. , all I want is a good chat debate without anyone getting angry or turning to there phone. I've become an argument when the family go out, as do not fit in with there media views, so now I'm a frustrated watcher. I think not being able to leave your mobile alone for a few minutes is both rude and shallow I'm sitting with zombies.

  • Ibrahim Shabiby
    Ibrahim Shabiby 21 day ago

    A favorited video into my playlist that I might actually come back to.

  • HexagonalClosePacked
    HexagonalClosePacked 23 days ago

    I miss these good old Tedtalk. Basic enough to understand while doing something else but intellectual enough to cover the good truth of the matter.

  • Informed CoCreator
    Informed CoCreator 23 days ago

    Why not teach people to be less sensitive? Maybe even teach them how to back up their beliefs with arguable facts? Is that asking too much? From some, probably.

  • Bethlehem Negussie
    Bethlehem Negussie 23 days ago +3

    ❤❤A much needed life advice!Tnku Celeste❤❤❤

  • Fernando Alemán
    Fernando Alemán 24 days ago +1

    I feel like we are always prepared to be offended instead of prepared to be amazed. That's the problem. So much feels.

  • rob inn
    rob inn 25 days ago

    Tldr; shut up and listen more.

  • Andre Garcia
    Andre Garcia 25 days ago

    "Thoughts come into your mind, and you need to... Let them out of your mind."

  • Aditya Vyas
    Aditya Vyas 25 days ago

    It was wonderful

  • JrMynt
    JrMynt 26 days ago

    Damn this is a good talk

  • Anton Mink
    Anton Mink 29 days ago

    7:00 yeah but have you tried DMT

  • Anjas Jati Kesuma
    Anjas Jati Kesuma 29 days ago +6

    "go out, talk to people, listen to people, and most important things, be prepared to be amazed..."

  • Eclectic Reader
    Eclectic Reader Month ago

    I try to develop conversation around subjects that I am interested in, but no one takes the bait. So the worm just sinks deeper into the water. Some things I'm interested in are: Shopping on Ebay, Nintendo 64, Windows 95.

  • Alvin Fuller
    Alvin Fuller Month ago

    Nobody like to sit around eating, drinking and talking, this is a very Euro version of the world. Interesting people are too busy to sit around and talk about their problems... oh sorry I have ot go now.

  • Rishabh Kashyap
    Rishabh Kashyap Month ago

    In thumbnail photo this girl look like Shweta Singh (aaj tak reporter).

  • Mas Doni
    Mas Doni Month ago +2

    How to get better conversations :
    1. Don't multitask
    2. Don't pontificate (assume that you have something to learn
    3. Use open-ended question (not a yes/no)
    4. Go with the flow
    5. If you don't know, say that you don't know.
    6. Don't equate your experience with theirs. (its not about you, not to promote yourself)
    7.try not to rephrasing yourself.
    8. They dont care with the number name date etc, they care about how you like.
    9. Listen (most people not listen to understand, but listen to reply)
    10. Be brief

    • Eclectic Reader
      Eclectic Reader Month ago

      I strongly disagree with #6. If I can't promote myself, I don't have a way to let a person know what I'm truly interested in, to connect with that person. Connecting is suppose to be a key aspect of a conversation.

  • Hassan Badi
    Hassan Badi Month ago

    There is no need to pay attention and infact you paying attention

  • inellipsale
    inellipsale Month ago

    There are people I can't learn anything from.

  • Ka Fisher
    Ka Fisher Month ago

    This was captivating!

  • Timothy Breen
    Timothy Breen Month ago +2

    That ticking noise really bothers me and makes it hard for me to keep listening to hear.

  • Stan Williams
    Stan Williams Month ago

    Sounds like great advice to me

  • jackgoldman1
    jackgoldman1 Month ago

    What polarizes us is women against men, colored against whites, Jews against Christians, homosexuals against heterosexuals, immigrants against locals, minorities against majorities. The content does not matter. It's the minority wars that never relent. It's all about feels.

  • Becca B
    Becca B Month ago

    I need a video like this but that's more focused on if your a good listener but bad at talking.

  • Himansu Sekhar Thapa

    I wish I would have watched this video earlier. Whatever, it's amazing.

  • Say Say's Kitchen
    Say Say's Kitchen Month ago

    vaccines are causing global warming

  • Mindsets A Threat
    Mindsets A Threat Month ago


  • steven sowers
    steven sowers Month ago

    I'll bet I could disappoint her...
    (da dum,dump, cymbal crash...)

  • Aditya Lochan
    Aditya Lochan Month ago

  • TheBuy More
    TheBuy More Month ago

    How good was that!

  • Bitwise Magick
    Bitwise Magick Month ago

    No wonder that people text each other, considering how much she talks no wonder people don't want to listen .

  • Akarsh mishra
    Akarsh mishra Month ago

    it was a really good video for those who want to improve
    very well made it understandable by aking real life examples

  • Her_biggest_fan
    Her_biggest_fan Month ago

    Nice fire god

  • Author T Tucker
    Author T Tucker Month ago

    This was great 👏🏽

  • Sam Valladares
    Sam Valladares Month ago

    She talks good.

  • Chantal Blanchard
    Chantal Blanchard Month ago


  • Eugene Saint
    Eugene Saint Month ago

    OMG, Celeste...I'm guilty (more often than not) of every one of these bad conversational habits -- especially Bogarting the conch shell. Fortunately, the older I get, the more fleeting are those off the wall tangents that I previously might have tried to get into the conversation at the first decent break point. So...they just go away. The problem is: Any time they spend standing there not listening to me is time I'm NOT standing there not listening to them. question to you (I reckon...maybe...) would be: To you have any suggestions on how to steer a conversation towards more balance? --- Perplexed in Ohio (BTW, the mini-skirt bit was great) :^)

  • Chase N. Paper
    Chase N. Paper Month ago

    A beautiful and incredibly relative insight from a beautiful woman.

  • Jen Hernandez-Dela Cruz

    Great tips!

  • olufunmilayo oremodu

    Thank you so much for sharing, I practically transcribed this talk!

  • Charles Long
    Charles Long Month ago

    Most if not all people are formulating what they are going to say next, while the other person is speaking, so they really can’t think about what the other person is saying. A clever conversational tool is to not finish your statements. Speak most of a sentence, but stop speaking just before uttering the critical word, the one word which reveals the meaning of the sentence. If you then pause for ten or fifteen seconds, the other person will start speaking. Immediately jump on that person, and demand, “I’m still speaking. You never let me speak.” Another clever tactic is to list at least six or seven talking points, contentions, insults, in hope they cannot remember the first three or four, and will only refute the last one, meaning they accept the first five as valid, that is they can’t refute them.

  • George Andrews
    George Andrews Month ago +1

    How to Have a Good Conversation: Speak only to yourself...

  • Clutch
    Clutch Month ago

    How do you do point #1 when you have no control of when/what your mind is thinking about at the moment?

  • Kee-pyor Myndopen
    Kee-pyor Myndopen Month ago +1

    She just took the plight of wives who are trying to connect with their husbands and lift their hubbies communication game, back 38 years when she said, ‘You don’t have to show you are paying attention, if you are really paying attention’
    I just heard 972,000,000 men that don’t really listen to their wives, squeal with glee.

  • Hal Martin
    Hal Martin Month ago

    You're either nervous or pissed or both. On the rag you are.


    excellent !

  • Nimona Rodrigo
    Nimona Rodrigo Month ago


  • Bharati Dasari
    Bharati Dasari Month ago

    Very nice 👍 Thank Mam