How To Be A Great Conversationalist, With Amanda de Cadenet

In this text message and emoji-centric world, sometimes we forget about the importance of actually connecting with people, you know, in person. Since we can all probably use a few conversation pointers, we asked Amanda de Cadenet to share her go-to tips. See, she knows a thing or two about making people feel comfortable. In addition to being one of a tiny handful of women hosting their own late-night talk show—Undone with @AmandadeCadenet, airing Thursdays at 10:30pm EST/PST on Lifetime—she’s been honing her skills for years. First as a presenter for the British cult TV show The Word, then via her web series The Conversation where she got press-shy people like Gwyneth Paltrow and Jane Fonda to open up. And that’s not all! De Cadenet is also a respected photographer, entrepreneur, fashion muse, and mother to tastemaker Atlanta de Cadenet Taylor.

We turned the microphone around on de Cadenet and asked what it takes to be a great conversationalist. Keep reading for our exclusive chat, and be sure to check out Undone with @AmandadeCadenet on Lifetime tonight!

What are your top 3 tips for being a good conversationalist?

1. Listen! Most people don't listen when they ask a question.

2. Pick topics that the other person will likely have something to say about. 

3. Know that there are natural pauses or silences and it's OK not to fill every quiet moment.

Is there a right and wrong way to start a conversation with someone?

I think so! We see before we hear, so how we approach someone either puts someone on guard or at ease. 

What’s the most memorable interview you’ve ever done and why?

I have interviewed many people over the years, and there isn't one that sticks out as the best of the best. I would say, though, that Lady Gaga was pretty epic, as was River Phoenix

Is there someone you’re dying to have a conversation with, but haven’t yet?

Beyonce for sure, and Hilary Clinton. 

What’s your favourite question to ask when interviewing someone and why?

On The Conversation, I would ask people what they would tell their 14-year-old self, and every time I was given an answer that was so insightful and profound.

Twitter or Instagram? Explain your choice.

I am a big Instagram user. As a photographer, I use images to communicate a story, so Instagram is perfect for me, as I know that an image can communicate just as much.

How has social media influenced the way you communicate with people?

I love being able to communicate directly with people who engage with what I make. Ultimately, I make TV and media for other people to enjoy, so its hugely important to me that I get to be in direct contact with those people and hear their thoughts on my content. I tend to err on the side of being very honest, so sometimes I have to remember that thousands of people can read what I share, which is kind of a weird thought.

Who do you love following on Twitter because they understand/provoke/challenge you?

@CaitlinMoran is one of the most prolific feminist writers out there. She is hilariously honest and cracks me up daily. I also love comedian extraordinaire @WhitneyCummings, and @hillarykerr is truly one of my favourites, because she doesn't take herself too seriously and shares awesome food and fashion photos. @DawnOporter is another woman who is smart and funny. @thedailybeast shares news stories in a way that is easily digestible and reliable.

Executive Director, Entertainment

Jessica Baker is Who What Wear’s Executive Director, Entertainment, where she ideates, books, writes, and edits celebrity and entertainment features.