In How to Talk to Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere Larry King teaches readers how to be a great conversationalist and interviewer.
The book is short and to the point and it contains all you need to know about the basics of enchanting conversations.
- Be open: Don’t be afraid of sharing your real self and your real feelings
- Be interested in others
- Listen and listen well
- Ask “why”
In “How to Talk to Anyone Anywhere” Larry King shares the now famous story of his first day on air.
He lowered the music ready to start speaking.. But no words could come out. He was too nervous.
So he raised the music again.
That went on for three times when the general manager kicked in the door and bellowed:
This is a communication business
From then on Larry King was never scared again to speak in public.
What had he learned that day?
The Secrets to Conversation
- Be as honest and open as possible: share how you feel
- Love talking to people (to be good at what you do, you must love what you do)
- Respect your speaking partners and treat them like you’d like them to treat you
- Be curious about your speaking partners
- Listen well: to be a good talker you must be a good listener
On being interested also read Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends“.
Train Your Voice and Conversation
Larry King says that he was gifted with a good voice and a willingness to talk.
But just like anyone else, he had to work hard on those innate talents to turn them into skills.
You can train by:
- talking to people
- talking to yourself
- talking in front of a mirror
- grabbing all chances you can to deliver a speech (also read: how to present with power).
Larry King didn’t train his voice much because he had a naturally good voice, he says.
But if he hadn’t had one, he would have spent and invested in improving his voice (check out The Perfect Voice by Roger Love).
Make Eye Contact (& Lean Slightly Forward)
Larry King says he didn’t out of his way to study body language so he doesn’t pretend to be an expert.
But he does say that eye contact is a crucial ingredient for a good conversationalist.
Larry King’s rules:
- Don’t stare continuously
- Look at them while you’re talking and while you’re asking questions
- Occasionally take your eyes off while you speak (but don’t stare into empty space as if he wasn’t there)
- Never look over your speaking partner’s shoulder as if you were looking for someone more important to talk to
Larry King says his most basic advice is to worry about the basics of listening, caring and respecting and then letting your body language naturally do the rest.
Larry King’s favorite question, and a reflection of his curiosity about people and people’s life, is “why”.
If someone has just moved: “why did you move”.
If they changed job “why did they change”.
Be Honest Talking With The Opposite Sex
Larry King’s advice of honesty applies to approaching the opposite sex as well: be candid, he says.
If you don’t know what to say, say that you are not sure what to say but you wanted to start a conversation with them.
The author then proposes you follow up with a topic you find interesting to test affinity and, also, their level of intelligence (also read: high-quality women and high-quality men)
For an actual science-backed guide on approaching a girl, look here:
Acing Job Interviews
Always approach job interviews thinking about what you can do for them.
To paraphrase JFK:
Ask not what the employer can do for you, but what you can do for them
And of course:
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
Whenever you know who are you going to talk to or who you are going to interview about what you are going to talk about, always prepare.
If you don’t prepare you end up digressing, using too many filler words and, generally, you will never be charismatic.
This is something Larry King didn’t do with Seinfield, and it showed:
Control The Interview
As a sociologist and writer on power dynamics, I found it particularly interesting that Larry King says that in an interview the first secret to success is to make sure that you control the interview.
How do you gain control of the interview?
- Know more about the subject
- Remind yourself that you are the expert
And remember that you are never forced to reply to a question you don’t want to reply to (or to give as many details as they want you to give).
Here are a few ways to divert giving an answer:
- “It would be premature of me to give an answer now”
- “I’m not able to answer that question because I haven’t seen the report yet… “
But don’t use “no comment” because it implies guilt (LOL, very good point).
- To overcome shyness remind yourself everyone puts his pants on one leg at a time
- Talk to your employees on a regular basis, provide feedback and tell them what they’re doing well
- Don’t focus on the negatives
- Remind yourself that no matter what you answer, it’s not going to change the course of civilization, so take it easy
- Advice on staying updated
The author advises to “stay young” and stay updated on what’s popular and what’s driving the conversation.
I see where Larry King is coming from given the job that he does.
But I disagree here: for most people talking about the news is shallow conversation and the real productive people don’t waste too much time on the news.
Sweet and to the point, “How to Talk to Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere” wastes no time on fluff or filler chapters.
The advice it shares is deep and simple, and yet it’s exactly what constitutes the basis of a great conversationalist.
I can recommend it.