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TED Talk Vocabulary: 10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation

In just under twelve minutes, radio show host Celeste Headlee will discuss ten ways to improve your conversations with this popular TED Talk. Below you will discover oodles of words, phrases, and idioms mentioned in the video. Feel free to follow along by reading the subtitles or the transcript. Plus, at the end of this article, discover a deck of flashcards containing each vocabulary term!

A Show of Hands (00:12) – When a group of individuals raise their hands to vote so that general levels of interest can be estimated

Anti-vaxxing (00:40) – Refers to when activists are against vaccinations, or are “anti-vaxxing”

To Polarize (01:05) – To divide into two opposing groups of opinions or beliefs

Interpersonal Skills (02:30) – Skills used in interacting with others, such as body language or verbal communication

Head of State (02:45) – The highest-ranking political leader of a country, like a president or monarch

To Pay Attention (03:24) – To watch, listen, and observe something or someone

To Waste Time (03:55) – To spend time doing unimportant or unproductive things

To Be in the Moment (04:35) – To be fully focused on what one is doing

To Pontificate (04:50) – To express one’s opinions in an annoying self-important way

Pushback (04:55) – A negative response

Pundit (05:05) – An expert in a field who is asked to state their opinions publicly on an issue

The Inner Recesses of the Mind (05:40) – Refers to personal and secret thoughts and feelings

To go with the Flow (06:40) – Refers to being relaxed and letting a situation happen without attempting to control or change it

On the Record (07:30) – Refers to a public or official statement, as to opposed to a confidential statement that is “off the record”

To Err on the Side of Caution (07:45) – To be careful and not risk making mistakes

To Stay Out of the Weeds (08:45) – To say only important points without bringing up unnecessary details



Anna Deen is a student at Washington University in St. Louis studying English Literature, American Culture Studies, and Communication Design. In her free time, she enjoys hiking in the mountains, going to art museums, and eating ice cream.


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