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 • 232

  • Lauryn Paige
    Lauryn Paige 13 days ago +1

    "most of us don't listen with the intent to understand they listen with the intent to reply" - THIS IS NUMBER 1 GUYS,!
    i read this quote some months ago and it stuck with me, i used to - sometimes still do, worry about what to say next to people , how to reply to what they are saying, i was anxiety filled about thinking about what to say!, so i was just awkward, but that was it , i missed the whole point of the conversation , the whole p;point of any conversation, i was to worried about my reply, and it hadn't occurred to me that i never tried to understand, the replies just come naturally, but i promise you try to be present and really visualize what people are saying, as if this happened to you, then that is understanding, !, i still remember the exact conversation 8 months ago when i first really understood and listend, it just felt like everything clicked in my head, i felt like i knew how to have a conversation again, its great feeling, and your conversations will be much more meaningful, i rambled a lot but i hope some one read this, as it really improved my quality of life with enriching conversations,

  • Abdullah Al-Hawi
    Abdullah Al-Hawi 14 days ago

    What is her name, does anyone know, please?

    ALISTER FOLSON 15 days ago

    Short and sweet...just like a miniskirt

  • mtwo mthree
    mtwo mthree 16 days ago

    Do you think that the dark net is not ALSO BEING USED BY GOVERNMENTS? simply to catch all who are wishing to cover up their activities?+I ACTUALLY BELEIVE THAT STEPHEN HAWKINS HAS AN ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE PROGRAMME IN HIS BRAIN, put there by GCHQ UK-corrupt government/lawfirm staff from UK/Malta hacked into my emails and stole 4 of my projects including ISLE OF MTV, WOMAD Annual events and the introduction of AIFMD into the malta financial authority! MAKE A MOVE ABOUT THESE SHITBAGS!

  • Pranjal Bhatewara
    Pranjal Bhatewara 16 days ago


  • Luy Martinez
    Luy Martinez 19 days ago

    It is too late.....the masses are under an invisible control mechanism that I cannot reveal or they will kill me.

  • Crackly CaDukLe
    Crackly CaDukLe 20 days ago

    I love this girl XD

  • Joint Strain
    Joint Strain 24 days ago

    What did she say?

  • Thirukumaran Sabapathi

    Thank you. Excellent and most useful points for me.

  • Deson Keii
    Deson Keii 27 days ago

    Wow...very honest and very helpful in really connecting with others in a meaningful way.

  • Ethan C
    Ethan C 28 days ago

    Loved this

  • tahmina noushin
    tahmina noushin Month ago

    She is a great speaker. Loved the whole lecture. Thank you very much. 💕💕

  • Sam Harper
    Sam Harper Month ago

    I wonder if it would be off-putting to whip out a cheat sheet in the middle of a conversation.

  • Sudesh Kadam
    Sudesh Kadam Month ago


  • Junior Farias
    Junior Farias Month ago

    Why are they all laughing?

  • Tank Evans
    Tank Evans Month ago

    she thicc <3

  • christian ryan
    christian ryan Month ago +1

    Thats what i have been saying for years... No physical engageing contact or enteractions so theres emotional detachment.... More mechanical

  • Rakesh Chimani
    Rakesh Chimani Month ago

    Have a British accent. that's it.

    SXHQQSSS Month ago +1

    Be prepared to be amazed!! I am!!! (Y)

  • UK news
    UK news Month ago +1


  • Bouha Soufo
    Bouha Soufo Month ago +1

    These are the most precious pieces of advice i ever heard.and the good thing i learnt something while i was laughing. What a wonderful Celeste Headlee!

  • Mothers Moons
    Mothers Moons Month ago

    I can tell you actually do what you say because I did what you said when I watched you. Thank you for being an example of truly what you speak. I feel your integrity. Brilliant

  • jtjjbannie
    jtjjbannie Month ago

    I will regret mating with this woman.... I just know it.

  • Lightning McQueen
    Lightning McQueen Month ago

    Me: "Hey. Hey. Hey. Hey guys. Listen. Listen to me. Listen. Please

  • yaughtagirl
    yaughtagirl 2 months ago

    I could use a great mentor and coach. My apology for the writing in the post below. I'm definitely excited to speak with you.

  • yaughtagirl
    yaughtagirl 2 months ago

    Celeste I really got so much out of your talk. Communication has always remained an obstacle or task to work on. I continue to work on my most challenging issues for making good conversation with anyone. I saw an article about your new book in the November issue on Essence Magazine. I find that a great deal of boks on conversation are very interesting in there own light. I see it as propeller that helps with the flow towards continuing to stay in the work towards growth. I've been a member of Toastmasters international and had a few acting classes and auditions, but I still get everyday hang-ups about going out a engaging in conversation. I'm currently reading the art of mingling and steal the show. Some of my favorite books I've owned on conversation are The Conversation by Hill Harper and How to get your point across in 30 seconds or less by Milo O. Frank, How to talk with practically anybody about practically anything by Barbara Walters. I'm so very interested in finding out more great things you know about making efforts to conversation.:-) Thank You.

  • Mario Aguilar
    Mario Aguilar 2 months ago


  • Kenna Kejela
    Kenna Kejela 2 months ago


  • jim buchens
    jim buchens 2 months ago

    One of the best things I’ve watched on here.

  • Iram Mushahid
    Iram Mushahid 2 months ago

    wow!!!!! I laughed my tears out :D you are amazzzing!!!!!

  • Ocean Great
    Ocean Great 3 months ago

    Can anyone tell me why the audiences laughed when she mentioned about the teacher said" I came to realize"?

  • Frederic Putnam
    Frederic Putnam 3 months ago

    This brings to mind two thoughts: "The kind of conversation I am interested in is one that I enter willing to emerge a slightly different person" (Theodore Zeldin). "What is required of us, then, is no less than this: to reduce our own interest to that silence which is an absolute precondition if we want to hear or perceive anything" (Josef Pieper).

  • Delilah Jones
    Delilah Jones 4 months ago +5

    In regards to when she says, "Don't equate your experience with theirs.," meaning, don't chime in with your story that's similar to theirs, I realized a while ago that I do this all the time. I find that this is how I connect with people. And when someone I meet just wants to talk about themselves and immediately shuts down interest when you share a similar story, well, that's selfish. Those people just want to talk about themselves. They are not interested in you. I've literally analyzed the exact moment whenever I chime in and go, "Oh, I know exactly what you're talking about because this one time..." and the other person's facial expression go from interested to never mind. Now, for the people whom I do get along with, they are the ones who WANT me to share my story that is similar to theirs. In fact, the conversation usually lights up at the point. These people seem to want to share a little bit about themselves at the same time they want you to share a little about yourself in a hopeful attempt to see if you can connect.
    So my point is, I agree with her on this point and disagree because not everyone is the same.

  • Lawrance Ciel
    Lawrance Ciel 4 months ago

    Hey, I may not know your name, but thanks so much for your great idea! You really open my heart and let me realize my personality flaw!

  • Virtual Media
    Virtual Media 5 months ago

    Celeste should get into politics, we could truly use someone who knows how to communicate.

  • Mike C
    Mike C 5 months ago

    Awesome, best conversation advice ever!

  • my trần
    my trần 5 months ago

    i love it

  • Deborra Storm
    Deborra Storm 5 months ago

    How to learn..Is to listen, how to converse is to listen, how to succeed is to listen well.

  • Authentic Team Building


  • Sam Lee
    Sam Lee 6 months ago

    why is there a laugh at 2:08 ???

    • Frances Anderson
      Frances Anderson 21 day ago

      Sam Lee I think it's because she is reading from notes, which is funny because that is what the teacher she was taking about said not to do, irony

  • Sam
    Sam 6 months ago

    Best ted talk on Earth!! Bravo Mrs. Headlee!!

  • creativefla
    creativefla 6 months ago

    hi everyone, lets talk about flat earth!

  • Brandon Weedon
    Brandon Weedon 7 months ago +7

    * 10 Conversation Tips
    1. Be Present
    2. Enter ever conversation assuming you have something to learn
    1. True listening requires a setting aside of oneself, sometimes that means setting aside your personal opinion. Sensing this acceptance the speaker will become less and less vulnerable and more and more likely to open up the inner recesses of his/her more mind to the listener
    3. Use open end questions
    1. Start with who, what, where, when, why, or how
    1. If you put in a complicated question you’re going to get a simple answer. For example, Were your terrified? The last word is what they will remember bringing forth a yes or no response. Let them describe how they felt. For example, How did that feel or What was that like. Now they have to take a moment to think about it bringing forth a much more interesting response
    4. Go with the flow
    1. Thoughts will enter the mind during conversation, like questions or comments about what the speaker is saying. Let them go
    5. If you don’t know, say you don’t know
    6. Don’t equate their experiences with yours. All experiences are individual. More importantly its not about you.
    7. Try not to repeat yourself
    8. Stay out of the weeds, no one cares about the details
    9. Listen….actively listen.
    1. Listen with the intent to understand, not with the intent to reply
    10. Be brief
    1. A good conversation is like a miniskirt; short enough to retain interest, but long enough to cover the subject

  • Sean John
    Sean John 7 months ago

    i agree with her 99 % and she was too funny

  • Markus Miekk-oja
    Markus Miekk-oja 7 months ago

    Redundancy has a thing going for it that people tend to forget: it helps ensure that an idea got across. If you hear an idea in two ways, it's more likely you actually grasp it than if you only hear it once. Yes, it's boring to hear someone repeat themselves, but it's also not very fun realizing that you misunderstood what your conversational partner said to you some time later.

  • MisterLivs
    MisterLivs 7 months ago

    i love this woman lol

  • george loui
    george loui 7 months ago

    I love it

  • Mina Dief
    Mina Dief 8 months ago

    some people will say " well, technically this speech is not for everyone every time, as there must be someone who should do the talking, and not listen, so I'm going to be that one"

    Ozan KARAKAYA 9 months ago

    That last quote though!

  • Alex Gulino
    Alex Gulino 9 months ago

    The most effective and to the point talk I've ever seen. Realistic advice that isn't counting on a flaw in your subject to remain effective. Great talk.

  • Devolock J
    Devolock J 9 months ago +1

    One of the best ted talks I've seen

  • Cloud white
    Cloud white 10 months ago

    this old man is like a stone

  • Vanessa Wideski
    Vanessa Wideski 10 months ago

    I Love this talk... I'm preparing to teach a communication course tomorrow and I will definitely be sharing this video... best one I've found on you tube! sooo good! Thank you Celeste Headlee

  • Anthony Rey
    Anthony Rey 11 months ago

    love this

  • SonyXLR
    SonyXLR Year ago +3

    Im only a good listener because I like hearing people's life stories and how they deal with their situations.

  • Danielle Policarpio
    Danielle Policarpio Year ago +2

    Where can I see the typed out version of what she just said?

    SKINNER Year ago

    I Googled bull shit and i ended up here
    The same will happen if you Google wasting time

    • SonyXLR
      SonyXLR Year ago

      Hehe, funny Harambe

  • Trap-lord -
    Trap-lord - Year ago +41

    "Most teens at this time send over 100 texts a day"
    Me: *looks at phone*
    *two texts*

    • Olivia Mae
      Olivia Mae 2 months ago

      Trap-lord - me. None.

    • GemBombzGirl
      GemBombzGirl 4 months ago +2

      I get a text every two weeks

    • Nick collinet
      Nick collinet 6 months ago +1

      You don't wanna live that kind of life anyway, it ends up being more depressing then simply doing a hobby. Mind you when you have your hobby you then can find other like minded individuals who are more than willing to look past your "flaws".

  • Yassine Gherbi
    Yassine Gherbi Year ago +4

    this talk is just awesome

  • Mr. Clyde
    Mr. Clyde Year ago +5

    Great speech

  • Lovro Levak
    Lovro Levak Year ago +24

    Ne gledaj u komentare, čeka te zadaća iz VjeKoma :)

  • Mona Mohamed
    Mona Mohamed Year ago +1

    one of the best talks :)

  • Xitlalmina Queen
    Xitlalmina Queen Year ago +1

    Great speech

  • Cindyisadog
    Cindyisadog Year ago

    What you need is some fury and some patience, and bam! you've got a conversation.

  • Epi
    Epi Year ago

    Mildly interesting to watch how people react at 0:30

  • natalievnkrk
    natalievnkrk Year ago

    nice one..

  • Daniel Milliams
    Daniel Milliams Year ago +6

    This woman is amazing!

  • Kellz G.
    Kellz G. Year ago +2

    Brilliant! Worth to watch often to keep what she said fresh in my memory

  • An Ne
    An Ne Year ago +1

    Excellent explanation but that was too fast for me to understand! 😏

    JUICEBOX Year ago +2

    really liked this one

  • Jawad Haider
    Jawad Haider Year ago +1

    What will be happen if both persons follow the last point " LISTEN" . Then how conversation will carry on further.

  • ahmed elbarky
    ahmed elbarky Year ago +1

    Like Like Like Like Like Like Like Like xD

  • ignis
    ignis Year ago +156

    1-Be present
    2-Enter enter every conversation assuming you have something to learn
    3-Use open ended questions
    4-Go with the flow
    5-If you dont know, say you dont know
    6-Do equate you experience with theirs
    7-try not to repeat your self
    8-forget the details, only focus on expressing your self.
    This is only for review purpose. If you havent seen the video pls watch it first then read this. And if you where reading this during the video pls restart it and watch it with you full attention.

    • Nick collinet
      Nick collinet 6 months ago +1

      I would say listening is 70% of what it is. Also i like to employ the "Kiss ass technique" where i forget who i am in the moment and only focus on them and their every word. You then say things like "wow that's really inspiring to hear" or "You handled the pain of child birth you can do anything". Just general lies that you feel confident telling people to bolster their ego. Trust me everyone wants their egos raised and they will keep coming back to you like chickens feeding on grain. Also once you gain that social rapport, your self worth to them has been increased so you become increasingly influential to them.

    • Riti Dwivedi
      Riti Dwivedi Year ago +3

      Woah ignis!!! You have been doing no. 9 pretty well!

    • kitty awesome
      kitty awesome Year ago


    • Trudy Swedberg-Anderson
      Trudy Swedberg-Anderson Year ago

      . C x Cx

  • All Can Excel *Abhinay Irala*

    Good Speech Madam.....

  • stefan stefan
    stefan stefan Year ago

    STFU. you dont talk like that

  • Julian2Sounds
    Julian2Sounds Year ago


  • eden gezu
    eden gezu Year ago


  • Sean Sheppheard
    Sean Sheppheard Year ago +43

    "Be prepared to be Amazed" The final and strongest words.

    • Nick collinet
      Nick collinet 6 months ago +1

      I used these techniques and noticed an immediate difference instantly with my wife and friends. Honestly i think my problem was with listening as with most people.

  • *Dreadstar
    *Dreadstar Year ago +293

    ya know you are socially awkward when your looking up how to talk to your own species.

    • akshaya sandilya
      akshaya sandilya 20 days ago

      one of the most logical comment on TVclip.

    • alex alex
      alex alex 2 months ago +3

      it was not about how to talk, was about beeing present and listening to what is around, outside your booble

    • Umar Bonte
      Umar Bonte Year ago +1

      *DreadStar good

    • Pauldav Olawale
      Pauldav Olawale Year ago +6

      haha so true.

    • Kazza FDM
      Kazza FDM Year ago +7


  • Svetlana Rovinsky

    Wow! I was blown away by the thoughtfulness recommendations. I want to watch this weekly and pick a week to work on. This is definitely a skill to be honed.

  • IvLxdvI
    IvLxdvI Year ago

    I have a hard time listening to people because i think of things that has a 0% chance of happening, unless shes a girl.. whole other story then.

  • Andres Gtz
    Andres Gtz Year ago

    One of the best TED Talks, thanks for publishing this content.

  • Freedom Ring
    Freedom Ring Year ago

    i don't respect her as a person. i can't believe my youtube just switches to people on its own. this ladies not common with me.

  • msGvious
    msGvious Year ago +1

    Enjoyable and useful. Love your non-pretentious style, Celeste.

  • sidra shah
    sidra shah Year ago

    Always two septs at left side and then back to position.Body language is not good

  • Julian Smith
    Julian Smith Year ago

    Mrs. Headlee is an amazing speaker! She kept the audience engaged, was entertaining, got to the point, and made me feel like I learned something. She is definitely taking her tips and making the best out of them. I highly recommend for more people to see this video!

  • Grady Dave
    Grady Dave Year ago

    well spoken, shake me a lot...

  • Joshua Morriston
    Joshua Morriston Year ago +17

    She makes a bunch of great points in this talk. I think my favorite - or perhaps second to the one about being a good listener - was the one about letting go of the thoughts that run through our minds when someone's talking. We think that we'll forget it if we don't hold onto it, but it's our real-time responsiveness that'll make what we say hit. And we're capable of tracking a number of points that someone makes at the same time, so our responses to them can take on the nuanced character that really listening yields. Well look at that: letting go of our thought stream is really very closely related to careful listening.

  • Jared Beins
    Jared Beins Year ago +18

    People never listen to me, so I just shut up and listen, and when people ask for my opinion, I don't say anything.What is the point of my presence in the conversation anyway? One of the reasons why I don't socialize with people anymore.

    • lucy Lucy
      lucy Lucy Month ago

      I once ditched a work thing where we were supposed to go to different sessions. At first I was worried my coworkers would ask me to report out about the session I attended, then I remembered they never do anything but talk. I enjoyed m afternoon free and was predictably never asked about my session.

    • GemBombzGirl
      GemBombzGirl 4 months ago +1

      Nick collinet : I agree. Except I'm not sure talking to much is always about being selfish. Sometimes it's just that we're always feeling misunderstood and we have so many things on our minds that we don't have any time to talk about or that we're never asked about, because let's be honest we're often talked at or stimulated in ways that are excessive and stressful, our opinions are not heard, our experiences not asked about and made useful, but we're always getting judged, given inappropriate advice, and yes, if someone gives us an opportunity to speak we do it.
      Now some people are particularly good at taking their time to talk about very uninteresting stuff and being in their world, or really abusing the time of people, and not appreciating other's time, attention, expertise, etc.
      But then some people also feel more of an urge to express themselves, which can be due to testosterone or whatever, which often is due to violent experiences of some sort in childhood or even at birth, or even before it. When we're not heard, when we go through difficult things, we have to find a way to assert our existence.
      And only people who know our true stories and thoughts will then deserve to give their opinions on our matters. A thing that we all love to do, or think we're asked to do, but without deserving it.
      I think if ou have listened to someone long enough, one day they will listen to you.
      Unless they are always talking about futile stuff that happened to them while they do not know you.
      But because some people have a physical urge to speak, if you don't talk, they will just assume that you don't care about talking. And if they see you sulking, tey will not want to interrupt themselves to hear you voice it. It will look like you don't like them and your opinions are loud enough on your face anyway.
      just find yourself people who are interesting and listen.

    • Nick collinet
      Nick collinet 4 months ago +2

      We're ALL selfish creatures, the point of "losing yourself in listening" is to open the person up so that you can reach a point where you can connect. If you listen to their full story as it were, they respect you for it, your opinion now weights significantly more then most of the people in their life because you've done what 90% of us can't do, which is actually listen fully to whats being said.

    • cardmagicbyalex
      cardmagicbyalex 4 months ago +2

      yup similar experience for me. People love to talk about themselves or just about whatever they want to say, and with them knowing that I'm more of a listener than a talker, at times, I get a feel that they are taking advantage of that and it does pain me to let them do that and not even show any interest in me or my life. An ideal conversation for me would be a balanced one and not being talked at, but talked with. It's more harmonious like that. It's hard to find someone who actually is genuinely interested in me which is the main reason why I don't feel like it's worth opening up myself to others. It's a waste of breath and definitely not fun to talk to such people. And when they do ask something about me, somehow the conversation quickly turns back on them and it's all about them again. Gosh. Why are people so full of themselves?

    • Jota.Shank
      Jota.Shank 6 months ago

      Didn't you hear what she said? Most people are more interested in talking about themselves, if they don't listen to you, just pay attention to what their saying and when they ask you questions give them an honest and brief answer.

  • José Yánez
    José Yánez Year ago

    Great talk!

  • Bianca van der Velden van de Loo Jansen

    Well if it comes to : oooh no sorry go on !!! Bud what if uhh OK go on !!! Now how can you ??? While : Now I sure have to remember this !!! what ??? Well just let the other person talk right !!! Way still ??? WHAT ??? DUHHH !!! LOL !!!!

  • Pnoy Primo
    Pnoy Primo Year ago

    eyebrows on fleek

  • Maree Christiansen

    i love that these topics need to be discussed and education given it is sad that a chunk of socity has lost its humanity

  • Itsdexter1994
    Itsdexter1994 Year ago

    I really liked this. Go in with the intention to be amazed 👍🏿

  • Salsa Colombia
    Salsa Colombia Year ago +15

    So how do I keep a good conversation if I'm a really good listener?

    • Jennifer Bannink
      Jennifer Bannink Year ago +10

      Salsa Colombia imagine you're reading a book. What more do you want to find out about this story? What have you observed? Make a conversation interesting.

    • Blahstar Records
      Blahstar Records Year ago +4

      you commit suicide

  • Miloud ZAIDA
    Miloud ZAIDA Year ago

    I think that conversation should be more interresting.

  • Southern Bum
    Southern Bum Year ago +7

    4:29 To skip the introduction. This is a wonderful speech, but I'm finding myself listening to it over and over so I thought I would skip the introduction.

  • Master Dawson
    Master Dawson Year ago

    Thanks for the best video that i have never.........

  • JustAnotherDrummerJG

    Steven Cubby - "most of us don't listen with the intent to understand, we listen with the intent to reply".
    Henry Higgins - "To hold a conversation, just talk about the weather and health".

  • Maksimilian Ryschkov

    Nice talk! Allthough I slightly disagree with one point: "Stay out of the weeds". I think every one has had more then one conversation where the counterpart was incredibly vague and generalizing. This is especially annoying when you are trying to make a point. So I'm more a facts and data guy than a 'general idea' guy. But maybe that's because I study maths and expect the same kind of reasoning in daily conversations ;)

    • Amar Sofiane
      Amar Sofiane Year ago

      it depends on the subject,by "weeds" she probably meant, unimportant details.

    • Sarii Fox
      Sarii Fox Year ago +1

      That's really interesting! Goes to show how different the individual is :D